Shawn Kellerman hails from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada and is a self-taught blues guitar wizard. He has joined the select circle of musicians who define modern blues and are insistent to carry the genre to new heights. His style reinterprets the traditional forms and ignites them into the present with a ferocious authenticity seldom achieved by other guitarists. Playing an average of 200 nights a year, the not quite 30-year- old has played internationally with some of the best - -- Deborah Coleman, Mel Brown, Michael Pickett and the legendary Bobby Rush. In fact, Shawn lived in Mississippi for two years so he could play the famed chitlin' circuit with Rush.
Kellerman's debut solo CD, Take Note, spins for 50 minutes and features ten tracks, including one original tune. Seven of the cuts were recorded live in front of a hometown crowd. At times there is a rock edge present in his raw guitar playing, but Kellerman is successful at keeping his music out of the blues-rock genre. He prefers blues which are upbeat and funky, and has chosen such tunes from his regular live repertoire. On Take Note, he gives them his own contemporary style. As proven on "You're Gonna Need Me," Shawn needs to keep his singing to a minimum as he is by far a stronger guitarist. However, he does possess the unique gift of frantically singing the notes that he plays at a fiery pace, as on the energy-laced "That's What Love Will Make You Do."
I have witnessed Kellerman blowing his Fender Super Reverb amp while performing "Rude Mood." You'll be tempted to turn it up and blow your speakers too on this rollicking rendition of SRV's instrumental roadhouse boogie. Shawn's extended version isn't as twangy as the original. His notes are played clearer, faster, sharper and harder. The pounding drums of Jim Boudreau completes a full sound. Kellerman gets to ice pickin' like the master Albert Collins on "Bending Like A Willow Tree." While John Lee turns in an amazing organ solo, Kellerman plays a blistering Texas blues solo where he surely experienced each note with a facial expression. Just check out the pictures on the inside sleeve to see what I mean.
Dave Wiffen (sax) and Jason Logue (trumpet) blast out some funky soul on "Heatin' It
Up." Here, Shawn adds his best vocals plus his wah-wah pedal. The brazen horns and the heavy bass of Al Richardson continue on the pounding, rhythm of "Threadin' The
Needle." It's a tune that showcases the band and is like the songs that are performed by the great backing bands of the soul masters. Kellerman then pulls out a resonator guitar (with a sound similar to a National Steel) and lets rip into some Hutto-esqe slide worth the price of admission alone. The disc's treasure is without a doubt a track recorded in Mississippi. "Ain't Nothing Like Being With You" was taken from the abandoned project with the late Chicago Pete.
--- Tim Holek
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