The Nick Moss Band featuring Dennis
One of the more enjoyable live blues shows
I've witnessed over the last year or so was when
The Nick Moss Band came to town with
harmonica ace Dennis Gruenling in tow.
These cats laid it all out for a couple of
hours, entertaining a decent-sized crowd for a
weeknight gig. With at least a dozen recordings
to their credit, this band is becoming a
mainstay in the Windy City AND on the
international blues scene.
Moss pays tribute to his home city of Chicago on the opening cut,
"312 Blood," an up-tempo shuffle that is anchored by the solid rhythm
section of Rodrigo Mantovani (bass) and Patrick Seals (drums) while Moss
(guitar), Gruenling (harp) and Taylor Streiff (keyboards) all come in
with hot instrumental breaks. It's a solid introduction to the music
that we're about to hear throughout the disc.
On the album's only cover, Johnny O'Neal Johnson's jump blues classic
"Ugly Woman," originally recorded in 1953 for Sun Records, Moss pays
tribute to the love of his life by singing "...With a woman like this, I
don't need nobody else ..." while also laying down some torrid
rockabilly guitar licks. Streiff contributes a tasty piano solo,
pounding away on the upper end of the keyboard. Keeping the tempo going
is the blues shuffle "Lucky Guy," on which Moss counts his blessings for
moving away from a relationship.
The first cut to slow down the tempo is "Sanctified, Holy And
Hateful," a slow blues highlighted by Gruenling's heavier harmonica
sound and solid blues guitar from Moss. Gruenling then takes the lead on
vocals and harmonica on his fast-paced original, "Movin' On My Way," a
call-and-response number that gives Streiff another chance to show off
his piano dexterity while Moss moves all around his fretboard on several
guitar solos. Later in the album Gruenling gets a second chance to front
the band with his own composition, "Wait And See."
Moss is searching for some assurances from his woman on the mid-tempo
shuffle, "Tell Me There's Nothing Wrong," featuring some very nice
harmonica breaks from Gruenling, while celebrating the good times with
his friends on the mid-tempo blues, "Me And My Friends."
The band takes it to Memphis on the greasy and funky instrumental
"Hot Zucchini," with Streiff switching over to the more-appropriate B3
to give the song that true Bluff City sound. The other instrumental
number here is the jazzy "Cutting The Monkey's Tail," with Moss and
Gruenling both showing their versatility on their respective instruments
in giving this number a smoother feel.
"Simple Minded" gets a different vibe when producer Kid Andersen
jumps in on this mid-tempo blues with some tasty mandolin picking, and
Gruenling tears it up on harmonica. Moss pays tribute to the woman he
loves on "As Good As It Gets," comparing her love to other favorites of
his, like honey on a biscuit, bacon on a plate, and sleepin' in late.
Closing the album is a simple acoustic number, "The Comet," with Moss
accompanying guest guitarist Monster Mike Welch. It's a nice wrap-up to
a very fine album.
Lucky Guy! was recorded at what is now one of the best studios
on the blues scene, Andersen's Greaseland Studios in San Jose,
California. All of the components come together to make still another
solid album by Moss and company.
--- Bill Mitchell