Chuck Berry is 83 years old, going on 84, still duckwalking and and now playing with musicians he knows-- in this case long time bassist Jimmy Marsala and long time piano collaborator Daryl Davis. The presence of musicians who know him and love him clearly puts him at ease, and you get performances like this one, which we're guessing is from June 26 at B. B. King's in New York City.
You get something similar, and more homestyle, at Blueberry Hill in St. Louis, where Marsala and a group of St. Louis blues musicians back up Berry at monthly shows that have become legendary. When I read about Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf I realize that 95% of blues and jass was played in clubs either nice (B.B.'s) or homey (Blueberry). It's great to see him return to those roots voluntarily, for the sheer pleasure of it. (Anyone thinking he's doing it strictly for the money should know that Chuck Berry is probably one of the richest rock and rollers in the world, with many millions in cash and property, but few expenditures for enrourage and stupidity.) The New York shows are not cheap to attend-- but in St. Louis you can see him for $30 and have a real good time and a little piece of history.