Blues guitarist and singer Robert Ross missed Atlantic City during the seven years he didn't perform there.
Ross played his interpretations of blues songs by Jimmy Rogers and Howlin' Wolf mixed with his own originals since the early days of the Gypsy Bar at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, until the venue began to exclusively book rock bands.
Ross, a New York Blues Hall of Fame inductee, returned this fall to Atlantic City as a part of the rotating schedule of accomplished blues artists being brought in to perform live in the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel. The musicians play for four hours, starting at 9 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at the front of BB's Burgers & Beers.
The Atlantic Club's lineup is believed to be the first time a casino in the resort has scheduled an all blues series.
"The room is beautiful. People who work here treat me with love. I've been here almost every weekend for the last month. It's been great," said Ross before a recent Friday show.
Since the booking at BB's is a showcase for the blues, Ross said he plays a great deal of material he normally does not have a chance to play otherwise. At other gigs, Ross may divide his setlist into 60 percent covers and 40 percent originals, but at BB's he performs an equal amount of covers and originals, depending on the mood.
Ross has played with such blues artists as John Lee Hooker, Lightnin' Hopkins, Mama Thornton and Big Joe Turner. One of the attractions of the BB's gig for Ross is the focus is completely on him, as opposed to the more famous people he played with.
A Staten Island, N.Y., resident, Ross was recovering from the effects from Hurricane Sandy during one of his recent stints at BB's.
Ross drank tea to help with what he said were voice problems, but no one could tell the difference as he played his black Carvin guitar through a Fender Twin Reverb amp and sang one of his original songs about the lottery.
Tina Belluscio, regional director of entertainment and public relations at the Atlantic Club, put the blues series together with the help of Jeff Morgan, president of Zippy Productions in Cape May, and Grammy Award winning music producer Joe Donofrio of Brigantine. One of the artists who will be returning is Kerry Kearney, who accompanied vocalist Marty Balin of Jefferson Airplane/Starship fame for five years.
"A lot of these people perform with other people. When you see big names, they are on the gig too. They don't get the chance to do their thing, so that's what we thought would be a good format. They get to come in and do their own thing," said Morgan, who added they book guitar-driven, electric or acoustic solo acts or duos with no drums. "We have a lot of respect for the Atlantic Club in looking outside the box."
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The BB's Burgers & Beers blue series features:
Kerry Kearney on Dec. 29 and 30 and Robert Ross on Dec. 31. Performances start at 9 p.m. at the bar inside the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel in Atlantic City.