RI music fans soon will have the opportunity to experience one of rock’s best-kept secrets. The long-standing, battle-tested band NRBQ, once described as “the best band you’ve never heard of,” will roll through The Courthouse Center for the Arts on August 24 to deliver a night of high-energy music.
“We got lucky with this group,” says Mariann Almonte, The Courthouse’s executive director, who is as excited about bringing in NRBQ as anyone.
NRBQ stands for New Rhythm and Blues Quartet, but there’s nothing green about this group. Going strong since the mid-60s, they’ve racked up an impressive and interesting collection of accolades during their 50-plus year history, from touring with R.E.M. to serving as the unofficial house band of “The Simpsons” for seasons 10 through 12. They’ve also won over some pretty high-profile fans, including R.E.M., Elvis Costello, Keith Richards and Bonnie Raitt. Raitt was one of many well-known artists involved in making an NRBQ cover album in 2004 and called the group “one of the most underappreciated bands in the world.”
The group’s music incorporates a variety of influences, including Beatles-inspired pop, Thelonious Monk-inspired jazz and rockabilly. And the band’s live performances can stack up against those of any other group. One hallmark of their shows is their tendency to perform without a setlist, preferring to keep audiences on their toes from night to night.
The Courthouse is an ideal venue for NRBQ’s style of performing. With seating spread out around the stage, there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Almonte speaks highly of the members of NRBQ, vouching for their generous, down-to-Earth nature.
“They’re the nicest people to deal with,” she says. “They could be playing bigger places, but they told us here at Courthouse, “We know about you and we want to come and play for you.’ They’re looking forward to coming and meeting our patrons.”
Catch NRBQ at The Courthouse Center for the Arts, 3481 Kingstown Rd, South Kingstown on August 24. For more, courthousearts.org