The Nightcats are a jump Blues band led by Little Charlie, also known as Charlie Baty. Baty was born in Alabama in 1953. Other members of the band include Rick Estrin, J. Hansen and Lorenzo Farrell.
Charles Baty (born 1953) was attending University of California Berkeley and studying mathematics when he formed Little Charlie & the Nightcats with Rick Estrin (born 1949) in 1976. The band's music relies chiefy on electric urban blues of the Chicago variety, but mixed in with other compatible styles, including early rock and roll, soul, surf music, swing, jump blues, and western swing. The Nightcats issued their debut album, All the Way Crazy, in 1987, including the songs "Poor Tarzan", "Suicide Blues" and "When Girls Do It". The following album Disturbing the Peace (1988), included "That's My Girl", "My Money's Green", "She's Talking" and "Nervous". The records help established them on the blues festival and club circuits, and they began touring the country extensively, playing a number of international venues. They have played at the San Francisco Blues Festival in 1980 and 1982, the Montreal International Jazz Festival, the San Diego, California Street Scene and Seattle's Bumbershoot Festival plus the Juneau Jazz & Classics Festival in 2002.
Their 1993 album, Night Vision was produced and played on by Joe Louis Walker. It featured "My Next Ex-Wife," a witty blues-rocker that won Estrin a W.C. Handy Award for 'Song of the Year', highlighting his steadily growing reputation for songwriting prowess. Original drummer Dobie Strange left in 1996, after 20 years with the group, and his spot was taken by June Core.
In early 2008, Baty announced he was entering "soft" retirement, no longer tours with the band, except for possible reunion tours/shows in Europe and select North American festivals. Baty performed with JW-Jones at Mont Tremblant Blues Festival, Ottawa Bluesfest, and Piazza Blues in Bellinzona, Switzerland in July 2009. Estrin continued with the band re-billed as Rick Estrin & the Nightcats. Baty was replaced on guitar by Chris 'Kid' Andersen (born 1980), originally from Telemark, Norway. Andersen had played backing Charlie Musselwhite as well as fronting his own band.
Baty's most recent blues recording was as a guest on JW-Jones, Bluelisted (2008), an album which marked the first time in his career that he documented his harmonica playing on a recording, and the first time he and another West Coast blues musician, Junior Watson, had recorded together on the same tracks.
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