Music is oxygen for Rusty Wright and his band.
“We need it to stay alive,” he said.
Wright brings an edgy blend of blues and southern rock into the 21st century, tapping into the muse and spirit of the classic southern blues rock bands and delivering a highly entertaining fusion of Texas- and Chicago-style blues and swing.
Add on a pinch or two of Detroit swagger and you get the Rusty Wright Band and they’re coming to the William H. Wakeman III Cultural Center Theater in Port Charlotte on Oct. 26.
“We love Southwest Florida,” Wright said. “We came through Charlotte County on our second tour through the state and played the 2015 Charlotte Harbor Chili Fest. Everyone we crossed paths with was nice and kind. People were smiling, happy and active and we developed an instant soft spot for the area.”
Wright delivers more than just a traditional blend of southern rock and blues.
“I’ve always been an aggressive player and I bring a lot of influences into my music,” Wright said. “I’m not afraid to insert an outlandishly wild riff into a song, just for fun. There are elements of blues in all that we do but there’s more as well.”
In the past, the band’s performances have best been described by the fans.
“Not too long ago, someone likened our show to a roller coaster ride that left her breathless but not wanting the ride to end,” Wright said. “I think that was one of the highest compliments ever paid to us.”
When they put their act together, Wright said they noticed a lot of blues acts fall into the trap of sounding the same — one song after another.
The Rusty Wright Band consistently works to avoid that.
“We’re not afraid to tackle sophisticated arrangements and unusual topics like hackers and social media and hate mongering in our songs,” Wright said, “but all set to a danceable groove.”
Wright will be playing new and old original songs as well as some cover songs by artists like Stevie Ray Vaughan, as well as modified versions of Rufus Thomas’s “Walkin’ the Dog” and the Cream version of the blues standard “Crossroads.”
“We have been known to occasionally cover Freddy King’s ‘Tore Down’ and ‘Someday After Awhile,’” Wright said.
Listeners will also hear the influences of The Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Molly Hatchet in Wright’s music.
“I’ve been a hardcore fan of (them) and others since I was a kid,” Wright said.
Wright attributes his unique blend of musical influences to his childhood.
“I grew up in Flint, Michigan, a General Motors factory town that became a melting pot of influences as people came from all over the country to live there and work in the factories,” Wright said.
Growing up, neighborhoods in Flint had nicknames like “Little Missouri” and “Little Arkansas,” each showcasing their own musical influences.
“My dad came from Florence, AL, to work at the Chevy truck and bus plant in Flint,” Wright said. “The music you hear as a kid leaves an imprint on you. Even after you grow up and expand your universe, that early music sticks with you.”
Wright isn’t new to the Cultural Center in Port Charlotte. His first show at the theater was right after Hurricane Irma in September 2017.
“Our first show there took place a few days after Irma hit Florida,” Wright said. “Charlotte County was still reeling from the storm and many people were still without power. Yet, the theater was at about two-thirds capacity. After witnessing the damage coming into town, we were amazed that anyone had come out that night.
We didn’t care if they were just there to take advantage of the air conditioning. We just felt great affection and gratitude to each and every one of those folks and felt inspired to play hard for them.”