Robert Cray at The Belly Up

The Georgia native brought his well-oiled blues grooves to the intimate confines of The Belly Up, and the crowd was well satisfied.

“The Forecast (Calls for Pain)” was the strong opener, persuading many the evening would be rewarding. Cray, a five time Grammy winner, then introduced a Bill Withers cover that further revealed Cray’s nimble fretwork.

From Cray’s latest album came “I Don’t Care,” which is one of the album’s best cuts. Cray’s band Hi Rhythm is a classic four piece lineup, anchored by Richard Cousins (bass) and Terence Clark (drums) and soulful B3 keyboards driven by Dover Weinberg.

Cray handled all lead vocals, but all eyes were on his masterful guitar playing.

During the course of the evening, his slower blues were often more evocative. Cray’s slippery guitar work became snarling in “Leave Well Enough Alone.” He slid easily into a funkier vein with “Where Do I Go From Here,” which featured a nice solo from Weinberg’s organ. The track is from Cray’s 1983 Bad Influence album, one of 20 he has recorded in his 40 year career. Fifteen of those albums have charted on Billboard.

The fervent show at The Belly Up revealed his consummate talent.

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.