Blues Bytes


July 2015

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Victor Wainwright
Boom Town
Blind Pig Records

Victor Wainwright

I’ve been a fan of Victor Wainwright’s for a long time now so when I ran into him at the Blues Music Awards and asked him about his new record, Boom Town, I wasn’t surprised when he told me it was” great.” Victor is the proud recipient of two Pinetop Perkin’s Piano Player of the Year Awards for a reason and he’s really grown into a mature artist at the top of his game. Blind Pig Records signed a great artist and Boom Town easily shows that Victor was worth the investment. Let’s give Victor’s disc a spin.

We start out with the title track, “Boom Town,” and Nick Black intricately picks the intro as Victor lays claim to the riches he expects in “Boom Town.” “It ain’t going to take long for me to be in the pink….I’ve got a Mojo Hand…I’m headed off to Boom Town.” Chris Stepheneson adds his Hammond Organ keys to Victor’s twinkling piano ivories and we’re off to a great start. We move on to “Saturday Night Sunday Morning” and Victor is advising that the fun you had on Saturday night is accompanied by the price you pay on Sunday morning. “Definitely an up-tempo tune and the band is enjoying the run, “Tonight is the night…we’re going to rock our soul…first thing tomorrow…we’re going to pay the toll.”

Guitarist Nick Black joins Victor on the lead vocals for “Stop Bossin’ Me Baby” and both men are tired of being told what to do. “Stop bossin' me baby…you always pushing me around…bit your tongue…zip your lip…if you don’t like nothing…you’re going to sink our ship…stop bossin’ me baby…you always bring me down.” The Wildroots are in top form and you can hear just how tight they are in the mix. Victor has surrounded himself with a talented group of players and they are definitely one of the top bands around. A deep bass intro from Stephen Dees sets the tone for the band as they segue into “If It Ain’t Got Soul.” “Sisters and brothers…spread the news…the Roots are coming to lay down the blues…in a boogie style…with a down home strut…way down deep…if the truth be told….if it ain’t got soul…it don’t roll.” I appreciate the message of this tune and am happy that Victor and the band are true to their muse. If it ain’t got soul…it don’t roll.

Stephen Dees is credited with writing most of the tunes on Boom Town and our next cut, “When the Day is Done,” has a deep, gospel feel to it. Stephen Kampa is blowing harp in the background as Victor tackles this plea for redemption. “So…take me down to the river….save my soul…Holy Son….wash away all my sorrow…I’ll be ready when the day is done.” Victor’s upbeat personality is apparent in his keyboard work as he moves to another Dees tune, “Genuine Southern Hospitality.” Here we celebrate the goodness in folks of the South and their willingness to share their good will. “Have a heaping helping…of Southern hospitality…pan fried, genuine….Southern hospitality.” A light snare intro from drummer Billy Dean sets the tone for our next cut, a boogie woogie tune entitled, “Two Lane Blacktop Revisitied.” “Cool down that radiator…I’ve got a full tank of gas…back up on that blacktop…it’s time for hauling ass… I looked up in the mirror…and who do you think I saw…that no good Johnny Law…I don’t want to deal with this doggone cop…I’m hauling gear on this two lane blacktop.”

We move on from mayhem to relaxation as Patricia Ann Dees joins Victor on the vocals as the time has come for Victor to enjoy the ambience of the “Wildroot Farm.” “Ain’t got no worries…no troubles…no cares…down on the Wildroot farm…get it while the getting is good.” More sweet harp tones from Stephen Kampa round out the sense of relaxation that can be found on the Wildroot farm. Victor and the band segue into the first instrumental on the disc, “Piana’s Savannah Boogie” and you can hear Victor’s fingers sliding up and down his piano as he tackles the Boogie Woogie beat of this tune. It’s a great place in the mix for an instrumental and I’m enjoying the brief break that it provides.

So of course we move on to the macabre and mysterious implications of “The Devils Bite,” and here we find Victor reflecting on the evil that has befallen him. “She’s driving by the hunger…to dominate her man…she’s got you in her sights…it’s feeding time again…your life is in danger…about to end…be careful my friend…beware the Devils Bites.” JP Soars is providing his acoustic fretwork to this tune and I appreciate the delicateness of his picking to accompany this song. Tempo picks up but we stay in the same vein as the band plays the opening of our next cut, “Reaper’s on the Prowl.” Here the adversary is the Devil and Victor knows the Reaper’s hunting him. “You know I’ve been pretty good….saying all my prayers….why are you hanging round my door…Hell no....I don’t want to go…quite creeping round here.” Victor’s playing some pretty sinister notes on his Hammond and it’s clear he’s not going to let the Reaper get to him.

Fortunately for all of us the next tune, “Back on Top,” features a much lighter feel with Robert “Top” Thomas on the lead guitar. “No, I won’t be looking back…I will not live in the past…I move on down the road…pushing hard on the gas…you may be the first baby…but you won’t be the last…cause I’m back on top again.”

Victor and the band close out Boom Town with one more instrumental, “WildRoot Rumble,” and honestly this tune has kind of an Old West feel to it as though the law is after Victor and the band again, which they probably are.

Victor has surrounded himself with some of the finest players Memphis has to offer with Nick Black on guitar, Stephen Dees on bass, Patrician Ann Dees on tenor sax and vocals, Billy Dean on drums, Charlie DeChant on baritone and tenor saxophones, Ray Guiser on tenor sax, and Stephen Kampa on the harmonica. The end result is that Victor and the WildRoots are one of the most entertaining Blues bands on the circuit today. You can learn more about Victor, the band and Boom Town at

Boom Town is an excellent record and one I’m sure that will garner Victor and the WildRoots some nominations come BMA time. The energy of a live show from Victor & the WildRoots is contagious so hit one soon and tell all your friends.

--- Kyle Deibler


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