Classic Sweat

Blood, Sweat and Tears

I got mixed reactions when I told people I was going to see Blood Sweat and Tears play in Oroville. Many mused about classic bands that tour years after their time with maybe one original member.

I needed to see David Clayton-Thomas sing BS&T’s gold hit, “And When I Die,” as this song motivated me to get through a difficult time when my grandmother was sick with cancer. I refused to believe a band with ingeniously jazzy stylings would be fuddy-duddy reunion tour material. I just knew this was gonna be one cool show.

It was a quiet, nearly full crowd that eyed Clayton-Thomas as he walked onstage, intently listening as he led the band into an energy-filled “Spinning Wheel.” I sort of groaned despite the great sound, thinking this crowd would eat the band alive. But in the moments after the first song ended, people were cheering, enthused by Clayton-Thomas’ still-rich voice like a warm brandy by a toasty midwinter fire.

Clayton-Thomas is one of the best crowd entertainers I’ve seen, telling stories between songs with a casually seasoned timbre and pleasant demeanor—the grandfather of jazz fusion scatting and be-bopping around the stage with a big sincere smile on his face and gospel music in his heart.

BS&T is an all-star band of musicians who have in their careers played with the likes of Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra and Luciano Pavarotti. Each musician is required to take center stage at some point in the show. All did, memorably Gary Foote on the bass, John Samorian on keyboards, and Steve Guttman, who’s been playing trumpet and flugelhorn with BS&T for nearly two decades.

This is a special group of musicians who love to play and delight their crowd. The song "40,000 Headmen," requested—via e-mail—by an attendee of the Oroville show a couple of weeks before the show, was thrown together for the first time in years, showing the band’s dedication to playing for its fans.