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Friday, March 19, 2010

What to Do This Weekend: Barrence Whitfield

Posted By on Fri, Mar 19, 2010 at 2:15 PM

Boston-based singer Barrence Whitfield was born Barry White, but he sounds little like the late R&B singer he shares a name with. White was known for his seductive bedroom crooning, while the raucous Whitfield is all about whipping up hormones with his performances. Something of a regional legend (he’s won seven Boston Music Awards), Whitfield isn’t well known outside of the Northeast. Too bad — last year’s Raw, Raw Rough! is worth tracking down. The colorful collection of obscure oldies offers a treasure trove of American music, including garage rock, R&B, soul, jump blues and rockabilly. The Sonics’ “Strychnine” is probably the most familiar track here, although Van Morrison completists will recognize the old Them tune “One More Time.” Even after 25-plus years, Whitfield still has an amazing voice, full of gritty growls and soulful shouts. And there’s an undeniable joy to his sweet and sweaty rock ‘n’ soul music. After releasing several roots-rock albums in the ’80s, followed by a pair of twangier outings with singer-songwriter Tom Russell, Whitfield’s recorded output dwindled over the past decade. More recently he’s contributed ever-potent vocals here and there (like for the John Sayles movie Honeydripper). But, as Raw reveals, Whitfield is ripe for discovery. He plays the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124, beachlandballroom.com) Saturday night, with the Big Sweet opening at 8:30 p.m. Tickets: $10. — Michael Berick

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