The Mick Fleetwood Blues Band

Mick Fleetwood is undoubtedly amazed at the peaks and valleys, the twists and turns his drumming career has traveled. He has lately been bringing it full circle. Starting out in a blues band in 1967, he is currently barnstorming through small gigs with his blues quartet. His recent stop in Solana Beach allowed listeners to close their eyes and be transported to an equally small and steamy blues club somewhere in England.

Between then and now, of course, Mick Fleetwood rose to the heights of stardom with Fleetwood Mac. Lindsey Buckingham, who was clearly the creative sparkplug that took that band into the stratosphere speaks of his own solo excursions as the ‘little machine’ to the ‘big machine’ of Fleetwood Mac. Stevie Nicks is undertaking another solo tour, so fans can get many flavors of what makes the big machine tick.

The Mick Fleetwood Blues Band consists of singer/guitarist Rick Vito, who was also a member of Fleetwood Mac (1987-1991), bassist Lenny Castellanos and keyboardist Mark Johnstone who also provides background vocals.  The quartet used maximum amplification to provide a robust set at the Belly Up. Drawing plenty from the early era Fleetwood Mac, fans were treated to vintage tracks going back to some of Fleetwood’s earliest recordings. Making the set list were gems from the 60s, such as “Oh Well,” “Rattlesnake Shake,” “Love That Burns” and “Black Magic Woman,” which the band pointed out was made far more famous by Santana.

It was uncertain why Fleetwood’s already large drum set needed to be supplemented by a second slightly smaller drum set, but the latter rig was brought up closer to the edge of the stage for a slightly ‘unplugged’ portion of the set.

Mick Fleetwood

Mick Fleetwood

Rick Vito

Rick Vito

Vito was solid in his fretwork, also taking almost all of the lead vocals. Keyboardist Johnstone was versatile. As to filling out the rhythm section, Fleetwood wryly noted of Castellanos, “Any bassist who plays with me has big shoes to fill.”

With the aid of a roadie, Fleetwood sent home many in the crowd with the double drummer solo set. And Fleetwood’s dreaded African talking drum made its appearance, allowing his towering stature a front and center position on stage.

The band is releasing a live album on October 4th, recorded at the Belly Up. For blues fans who missed the recent gig or revel in the early days of British blues, it will be a great two hour addition to the collection.



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.