The Bel Airs: Fresh princes of blues

Republished from MOVE Magazine

Now this is a story all about how a band played the twist and the crowd got down. And I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there, I’ll tell you how the town of CoMo watched a band called The Bel Airs.

The Columbia-based group led off the Roots ‘N Blues ‘N BBQ Festival’s Mpix stage Saturday with an hour-long set of bar-band jams.

“The Bel Airs are your complimentary brunch today,” lead singer Dave Pruitt said. “So turn to the person next to you and say something nice. It’s complimentary.”

The aptly titled Skinny Bottom Boys, which includes Pruitt’s older brother, Dick, backed Pruitt on guitar and drums, and Pruitt himself isn’t exactly a chunker. It’s a wonder how he can store so much bluesy fervor in his stick-like frame.

After 30 years on the bar band scene, the band has its self-described “eclectic bluesy-country-soul-and-rock-n-roll sound” down to a science. While the group’s numbers never strayed too far from the style of jazz and blues standards, the group’s impeccable precision kept even the simplest 12-bar blues jams engaging. The strength of the group was clearly Dave Puritt’s voice, which, though never thunderous or overpowering, had just the right influx of personality and charm.

While the overcast sky lent just enough raindrops to wash barbecue sauce off the crowd’s fingertips, The Bel Airs’s retro magnetism prevented anyone from straying from the corner of Seventh and Locust streets.

“We got so many hits,” Pruitt said. “It’s hard to pass them into a one-hour set.”



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