Here's an idea: Let's send a couple of large buses over to Madam Wongs, the Roxy and maybe the Club Lingerie, load up all the performers with rock aspirations, and cart them to the Cinegrill to hear Ruth Brown.
Tuesday night, in her opening set, the '50s R&B pioneer made it dramatically clear that, before there were Elvis and Little Richard, before there were Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly, there were Ruth Brown, Lavern Baker, Willie Mae Thornton, Dinah Washington and a generation of powerful urban blues performers.
Listening to Brown sing "Teardrops From My Eyes," "Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean" and "5-10-15 Years" was less a tour through nostalgia than a confirmation of how much the vitality of rock music continues to depend upon the rich roots provided by performers like Brown.
At 60, she has lost none of her ability to move from knock-'em-down belting to smooth-as-honey ballads. Her always colorful sound has been brightened by the use of a throat-catching yodel, and she has added a discreet, but effective trace of jazz phrasing to her slower-paced songs.