Blues Bytes

Pick Hit

June 2022

Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters
Mercy Me
Stony Plain Records

Ronnie Earl

Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters have crafted one of their finest albums with Mercy Me (Stony Plain Records), Earl’s 28th album overall and his 14th for Stony Plain. A master blues guitarist who is equally versed in the jazz genre, Earl is joined by his longtime band (Dave Limina – keyboards, Forrest Padgett – drums, Paul Kochanski – electric and upright bass, and Diane Blue – vocals), along with several guest musicians, including Anthony Geraci (piano), Mark Earley (baritone sax), Mario Perrett (tenor sax), Peter Ward (guitar), and Tess Ferraiolo (vocals).

The set list is evenly split between originals and covers. The covers include the opening romp “Blow Wind Blow,” Earl’s tribute to Muddy Waters, which features Ms. Blue’s swinging vocal. There’s also a fascinating take on John Coltrane’s “Alabama,” which the jazz legend penned in commemoration of the the 1963 Birmingham church bombing. Earl’s version is different, but just as deep and sensitive as the original (Earley and Perrett also contribute on saxophones).

“Blues For Ruthie Foster” is an easygoing acoustic guitar collaboration with guitarist Ward that’s equal parts Robert Johnson and Robert Jr. Lockwood, while “Soul Searching” is a nice remake of the title tune from Earl’s 1988 album with horns added to the mix. Earl even strikes a slightly similar pose on both album covers.

“Blues For Duke Robillard” is a tasty slow-burning tribute to Earl’s label mate (check out his superb recent Stony Plain release), and Ms. Blue returns for an enthusiastic cover of Dave Mason’s “Only You Know and I Know,” a tribute to Bonnie Bramlett, who had a hit version in the early ’70s as Delaney & Bonnie.

Keyboardist Geraci teams with Earl for the sublime “A Prayer For Tomorrow,” just before the band locks into a cool, mid-tempo groove on “Dave’s Groove,” which is followed by a gorgeous near-11 minute reading of Percy Mayfield’s “Please Send Me Someone To Love,” where the entire band shines.

The album wraps up with “Coal Train Blues,” a gentle Lockwood-styled shuffle with sparkling interplay between Earl, Limina, and Geraci, “The Sun Shines Brightly,” a simmering, gospel ballad with a strong vocal from Ms. Blue, and a spirited version of the Jackie Wilson classic, “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher,” with a dynamite vocal from Ferraiolo.

Mercy Me is a wonderful addition to the Ronnie Earl catalog. His tasteful playing and arrangements and his obvious love for the music make each recording a genuine pleasure to hear and this one ranks with his finest outings.

--- Graham Clarke



[Pick Hit][What's New][Surprise][Flashback][Feedback][Back Issues][Home Page]


The Blues Bytes URL... 
Revised: June 10, 2022 - Version 1.00
All contents Copyright © 2022, Blue Night Productions. All rights reserved.