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Over the years they have warmed up the stage for Albert Collins, George Thorogood, Johnny Winter, ZZ Top, Blue Oyster Cult, Robin Trower, Leslie West, Robby Krieger, Rick Derringer, Humble Pie, The Kinsey Report, Danny Gatton, John Mayall, Savoy Brown, Kansas, Son Seals, Dr. hook, David Allen Coe, the Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Tinsley Ellis , Steven Seagal and a host of others too numerous to name. 

Often they have the crowd jumping to their feet and dancing in the aisles before the main act even appears (and many times get better reviews, too.) 

Armstrong Bearcat’s opening set for the Marshall Tucker Band prompted one reviewer to make the comparison that the trio had “half the musicians but twice the talent.” 

Opening at Nautica for Little Feat, Butch Armstrong’s rendition of signature tune “Mr. Cleanhead” had headliner Sam Clayton “sitting on the side stage looking stunned, but happy.” The tune, a tip of the hat to Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, often inspires Armstrong to jump from the stage and get his clean-shaven head stroked by the throng of adoring women that crowd around him. 

The Armstrong Bearcat Band has shared the stage with the following:

Living Colour 
Marshall Tucker Band
Blue Oyster Cult 
ZZ Top
Little Feat
Eric Burdon & Brian Auger
Albert Collins
Johnny Winter 
Robin Trower
Mark Farner
Steve Morse
Leslie West
David Allen Coe
Robby Krieger
Rick Derringer
Bad Finger
Steven Seagal
Humble Pie
Tower of Power
The Kinsey Report
Danny Gatton
Peter Frampton
John Mayall
Savoy Brown
Son Seals
Clarence (Gatemouth) Brown
Tinsley Ellis
Lonnie Brooks
George Thorogood
The Allman Brothers
The Yard Birds
Larry Coryell
The Raspberries


Reviews from Scene Magazine, Speed of Sound Magazine and Jane Scott

In the beginning…

Living Colour,
Butch Armstrong & The Ramrods
Phantasy Theatre

April 18

It could have been ugly, Real ugly.

Picture this: the opening act mistakenly ends up in Rochester , New York and a replacement is rushed from a recording session 45 minutes from the start of the show. This followed by a wait of nearly an hour before the headliners hit the stage.

And, oh yes, all of this taking place at the headbangers’ palace, The Phantasy Theater, where 2,200 people have been shoehorned into a building designed to house 1,500. All the makings of a good British soccer match.

Fortunately the opening act, Butch Armstrong and The Ramrods, a power blues trio, warmed up the crowd surprisingly well with their classic roadhouse set. Led by guitarist Armstrong who looked to be on loan from the Hells Angels for the night, the group turned in manic versions of “Messin’ With the Kid,” “Goin’Down” and others that had quite a few in the crowd flicking their Bics.

Bill Gibb
Scene Magazine 

Marshall Tucker Band,
The Armstrong Bearcat Band,
Peabody’s Down Under

May 26

With half the musicians but more than twice the talent of the Marshall Tucker Band, The Armstrong Bearcat Band wasted no time tearing it up with their hard-driving instrumental version of Steve Ray Vaughan’s “Love-Struck.” The amazing Butch Armstrong played a Gibson double-neck the entire set, and made it obvious from the start that he tells that guitar what to do. “They Call Me Mr. Clean Head,” a slow blues, featured the prettiest/meanest guitar solo I have heard in a long time. The bass was almost too heavy during Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads,” and no one else could have pulled it off, much less made it dangerously close to perfect the way Stutz Bearcat did. I found myself wondering, “My God, what is his thumb made of ?!

I could write volumes about why I liked these guys so much, but simply speaking, while I was taking notes during the band’s original “Roadhouse Jam,” the guy standing next to me in the crowd leaned over and yelled, “Quote me: ‘they’re f**king good!”’ And he was right,. I could have listened to this band all night.

Maria T
Scene Magazine

Meat Loaf,
Armstrong Bearcat Band
Cleveland Agora

October 26

Opening for Meat Loaf was Cleveland ’s own rock-blues Armstrong Bearcat Band. Cleveland audiences are known for their disinterest in – and sometimes even rudeness to – bands that open for Meat Loaf. The people who come to this show are usually here to see Meat Loaf, and Meat Loaf alone. It was pleasant surprise, therefore, to see the Armstrong Bearcat Band incredibly well received by this fickle audience – and justifiably so. They were electric on stage, starting off with the instrumental “Rock Jam. ” Butch Armstrong on his double-necked (12-string, 6-string) guitar and Stutz Bearcat with his slap-happy bass shared the spotlight for a 40-minute set. They held the crowd’s rapt attention with explosive rhythms and screaming guitar work.

Though the Armstrong Bearcat band puts on a completely different show than Meat Loaf, they are one of the few bands that have the energizing stage presence to keep an audience awed, as can Meat Loaf, and this was a big factor in their success that night.

When they weren’t playing to the audience, they were playing off of each other with mind-boggling precision. Bearcat was all flash and glitz as he seemed to effortlessly slap the rhythms out of this bass, while Armstrong appeared to squeeze and wrestle the sound from his guitar – taking his music from the prettiest, tenderest notes to a fiery, wailing frenzy.

During “Mr. Clean Head,” Armstrong’s semi-autobiographical blues number, he jumped off the five-foot stage into the audience, playing on his knees to the crowd as the women around him lavishly stroked his clean- shaven head. They finished up the set with Bearcat singing “All I Can Do Is Play Guitar For You” and “Goin Down”

Sandy Mansell
Scene Magazine

Blue Oyster Cult
Armstrong Bearcat Band
Peabody’s Down Under

July 12

Opening for Blue Oyster Cult was Cleveland ’s Armstrong Bearcat Band, a high voltage group that switches easily from rock’n’roll to R&B. Though Stutz (Bearcat) and Butch (Armstrong) put this band together a few short months ago, the way they pick up on each other is almost telepathic. Bearcat is continually on the move, almost manic in his playing, while Armstrong adds the accents with this active stage persona. With fiery guitar solos, a blistering bass and a hyper, energetic blend of original songs and their own renditions of others, the Armstrong Bearcat Band had the audience boogying before BOC even took the stage.

The Armstrong Bearcat Band made the audience feel like they’re sitting in on a private jam session with some friends. This band (currently playing in clubs around Cleveland ) is worth seeing again.

Sandra Mansell
Scene Magazine

Little Feat,
Armstrong Bearcat Band
Nautica Stage
August 7

Kicking the night off was Cleveland ’s own Armstrong Bearcat Band. This trio redefines blues, as we know it. They tore through the night with a set of originals and classics as the “virgin” Stutz Bearcat, dressed all in white, brought the night sky down. Butch Armstrong peeled off guitar licks to the rampant beat of the drums. Armstrong did a tongue-in-cheek “Mr. Cleanhead” which had Little Feat’s Sam Clayton sitting on the side stage looking stunned, but happy. Ending their set with “Roadhouse Jam,” that brought the crowd to a climax. Maybe the next few years will bring forth the “Cleveland Blues” sound, and if so, Armstrong Bearcat will be at its helm.

Chris Young
Scene Magazine

Eric Burdon and Brian Auger,
Armstrong Bearcat Band
Cleveland Agora

January 13

The always reliable Armstrong Bearcat Band opened the show. Their 45-minute set now consists of their super-charged arrangements of blues and R&B classics. Butch Armstrong, who cuts an imposing figure with his long beard and baldhead, roared through “Crossroads”, a version of which Eric Clapton should hear.

Quite a guitarist, Armstrong also sang his (by now) signature rendition of “Mr. Cleanhead” (tipping his hat to Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson). Bassist Stutz Bearcat reminded the audience the group’s first recording would be available soon.

Armstrong played some “nasty” slide on his Flying V on an original before they finished with their usual closer, Freddie King’s “Goin Down”. No resting for these boys, however. As soon as the dust settled, they were off down the street to finish the night at the “Euc.”

Bill Kazen
Scene Magazine

Excerpt from another writer on same show:

When the Armstrong Bearcat Band opened for Eric Burdon at the Cleveland Agora last Sunday, January 13, the former Animals’ vocalist was so impressed by the band that he joined Butch Armstrong, Stutz Bearcat and Alan Greene later that night at the Euclid Tavern. The four jammed on “Rock me Baby” and other standards.

Steve Morse Band
Armstrong Bearcat Band
Empire Concert Club

May 16 

Opening the show was Cleveland ’s Armstrong Bearcat Band. I had been hearing good things about this band for quite some time but had never seen them. I was really missing out. This band is beyond a doubt the best area band I have seen so far. Armstrong Bearcat ripped through a set of “jump up an down, scream profanities, and break beer bottles on your head” rockin’ blues the way it was meant to be played: loud, rude and aggressive. This is a band to watch.

Jon Epstein
Speed of Sound Magazine

Albert Collins & The
Armstrong Bearcat Band

October 28

Cleveland ’s Armstrong Bearcat Band (who else?) opened for Collins. During their set, bassist Stutz Bearcat told the crowd how honored the band was to open for Collins. Bearcat and guitarist Butch Armstrong played like it, delivering one of their tightest, cleanest sets ever. Paying further respect to Collins, both Armstrong and Bearcat jumped off the stage and jammed on the floor during the finale, their rendition of Jeff Beck’s “Goin’ Down.”

C.J. Maher
Scene Magazine

George Thorogood
And the Destroyers
Armstrong Bearcat Band
Nautica Stage

July 31 

The opening act, local blues-rock favorites the Armstrong Bearcat Band, kicked butt for a bit more than a half-hour and seven songs. Guitarist Butch Armstrong, Stutz Bearcat and drummer Billy Coakley make a lot of music for a three-piece band. There were some good originals like “All I can Do Is Play Guitar For you,” as well as a couple of clever covers, including Eddie Vinson’s “They Call Me Mr. Cleanhead” and a 13-minute version of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstitious” that included a five-minute drum solo. This traditional closer falls in the category of “Once a crowd-pleaser, always a crowd-pleaser.”

Lee Barrish
Scene Magazine

Humble Pie
Armstrong Bearcat Band
Cleveland Agora

“Band gives its all for Agora crowd”
The opening act, the Armstrong Bearcat Band, was a sizzler, too. 

“All right, fasten your seat belts!” bassist Stutz Bearcat called out as Butch Armstrong whipped out some pure blues guitar notes. Armstrong is stocky, with a beard and balding head, and had a red kerchief sticking out of a jeans pocket. He kind of reminded you of a northern member of ZZ Top.

Hard-rocking tunes got Bearcat playing on his back and knees and performing a searing bass solo. You don’t hear many of them these days. 

Armstrong exceeded the speed limit when he jammed. That was fascinating, but it was his sweet blues notes that reached you.

Jane Scott
Plain Dealer

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