Ruff Kutt Blues Band
That's When The Blues Begins
Ruff Kutt Blues Band is a
project assembled by Texas bassist James Goode,
originally teaming up with guitarist Anson
Funderburgh for the great CD Mill Block Blues.
For the newest Ruff Kutt CD, That's When The
Blues Begins, Goode and Funderburgh bring in not
one, but two, fabulous vocalists in Finis Tasby and
Zac Harmon. The result is a disc that will
undoubtedly rank as one of the best of the year.
(Actually, the date printed on the CD is 2012, but
my promo copy just arrived in the mail so I'm going
to call it a 2013 release).
If you're looking for blues that's
going to blow your speakers out or raise your heart
rate by several dozen ticks, this isn't the CD for
that. But if you want basic, tasteful blues
delivered by an ensemble of talented blues cats,
That's When The Blues Begins deserves a spot in
your regular rotation.
While Goode wrote all 14 numbers
here and the same backing musicians play on all
cuts, it's almost like this is two CDs in one due to
the different styles of vocalists Tasby and Harmon.
The former, a veteran L.A. singer, has more of a
raw, old school vocal style, while the younger
Harmon presents more of a contemporary approach.
Both singers are very good, and compliment each
Tasby handles the vocals on the
first few cuts, including the opening "Deep Elam
Blues," featuring nice baritone sax work from Ron
Jones. Finis then gets a little funky on the next
number, the mid-tempo tune "Blues In My Blood,"
punctuated by short but tasty guitar licks from
The album really starts to cook on
the mid-tempo shuffle "Oh Woman!" Tasby is credited
as the vocalist, but it sure sounds like Harmon
instead. Regardless of who stepped up to the mic for
this number, his voice soars across the octaves as
he pays tribute to his better half.
Another killer cut, "That's When The
Blues Begins," comes later in the lineup, featuring
spirited soulful vocals by Harmon, given a gospel
feel with a very good group of background singers
and a really nice guitar solo from Funderburgh. This
ranked as my favorite cut on the disc, UNTIL .....
As soon as I heard the energetic
shuffle "Going To Bluesville," I knew that this song
was worthy of Blues Song of the Year honors. Harmon
takes the listeners on a trip to the fictional
Bluesville, a place that we all crave to be ... "gonna
put on my walkin' shoes, I'm going to Bluesville,
gotta find a place to stay, to play the blues every
day ..." I hit the repeat button on my CD player at
least twice the first time through the album; I
couldn't get enough of the hypnotic beat of this
Just when we think that Tasby's done
for the night, he returns on the next to last cut,
the mid-tempo tune "Let's Dance" that makes a good
late night blues.
Harmon brings us on home with the
closing number, "When A Bluesman Goes To Heaven."
Lyrics like this are classic ... " ... When a
bluesman goes to heaven, he'll be in the coolest
band around, he built his life at the crossroads,
lord, now he's heaven bound ... " Goode lays down a
solid walking bass line and Funderburgh takes the
opportunity to jump in with more hot guitar work.
Assembling such a diverse group of
musicians from around the country isn't always easy,
but here's hoping that Goode can bring together this
particular combination at least one more time. I
liked That's When The Blues Begins so much
that I crave more.