Blues Bytes

What's New

October/November 2011

an associate Order these featured CDs today:

Dani Wilde

Jay Gordon's Blues Venom

Dr. Pascal Bokar Thiam (book)

Dr. Pascal Bokar Thiam (CD)

Samantha Fish

Mary Flower

Bernie Pearl

Sean Chambers

Louisiana Red

Duke Robillard

Ian Siegal

Whiteboy James & the Blues Express

Rob Lutes & Rob MacDonald

The Bottoms Up Blues Gang


Dani WildeBritish blues woman Dani Wilde has gotten a significant amount of acclaim recently because of her collaborative efforts with Samantha Fish and Cassie Taylor on Ruf Record's Girls With Guitars album and subsequent tours. Her 2009 debut release, Heal My Blues, received a favorable review from Blues Bytes veteran Graham Clarke, as he pointed out that "She's well on the way to being compared favorably with those ladies who initially inspired her to play the blues."

With the release of her second solo CD, Shine (Ruf Records), produced by Mike Vernon, all signs point to Wilde's career really starting to take off.

The album kicks off with the pleasant title cut, with Wilde playing acoustic guitar at the beginning. Her brother Will later comes in with some nice harmonica playing and there's a nice mix of background vocals throughout the number. It's a catchy song that grows on you with repeated listens.

It's been done before and this version doesn't stray far from the Rolling Stones original, but I like her take on "Miss You." It's her sultry and at times sassy vocals that makes it distinctive from the Jagger version. What really carried the original was Sugar Blue's harmonica riffs, and brother Will does a good job of bringing the same harp sounds to the Wilde rendition.

Shine really takes off with the fourth cut, the soulful gospel-influenced "How Do You Do It." Wilde puts down the guitar and focuses strictly on singing here, and winds up doing her best vocal work on the CD. No doubt about it ---- she's an excellent guitar player but could make a career strictly out of being a singer if she so desired. But don't worry about missing out on hot guitar licks on this number, as Laura Chavez does a great job of filling in with a very nice solo. For my money, "How Do You Do It' is the highlight of the CD.

Wilde keeps up the momentum on the next cut, the mid-tempo blues shuffle "Red Blooded Woman," on which she picks up the guitar leads again while her brother blows some very nice blues harp. Wilde then plays the pleading, tortured female role quite well in the very nice "Don't Give Up On Me."

One of Wilde's passions outside of music is support of schools and orphanages in an impoverished area of Kenya, and she ties into that effort on the slow blues "Abandoned Child," on which a spoken word intro comes from one of the African children that she holds so dear. Wilde's guitar playing is truly inspired on this number --- it's her best instrumental work on the album. It's obvious that her heart is really in this one as she sings, "Seems that some are born with privilege, and some are born and die in pain."

Wilde again steps to the microphone for "Where Blue Begins," allowing Stuart Dixon to shine with some very good Chicago-style blues guitar. Martin Winning, like others on this album a member of Van Morrison's touring band, contributes a very nice tenor sax break.

Shine ends nicely with a solo acoustic number, "Big Brown Eyes," with Wilde again singing passionately while accompanying herself on guitar. It's a very nice conclusion to a wonderful CD.

Dani Wilde is most definitely a blues star on the rise. Read more about her music and her charity work at And get this CD soon --- you won't regret it. It's one of the best I've heard this year.

--- Bill Mitchell

Jay GordonThe new CD, No Cure! (Shuttle Music) from California four-piece band Jay Gordon's Blues Venom is quite easy to describe. The music on No Cure! falls under the category of "hard drivin', ass kickin', shot and a beer, park your motorcycle in the back, no holds barred" blues/rock. Gordon is a strong guitar player who holds nothing back when he straps on his Fender guitar and steps to the front of the stage. He also handles most of the vocals on the album --- while he's not a great singer, he's good enough for the material here.

No Cure! opens with a Gordon original, "Dockery's Plantation," a slow blues that pays tribute to Robert Johnson. "World Blues" is a mid-tempo shuffle, a topical number that covers a lot of the problems plaguing the world today but with every refrain ending with the rather interesting line "... last night I saw Jesus turn my beer into wine." Interesting.

Two guests supplement the regular band on a few of the cuts, with the harmonica player being Mario Ramirez, younger brother of Richie Valens. Ramirez gets in a couple of good harp solos in the middle of the frantic blues shuffle "Mister Max." Rich Wenzel plays Hammond B3 on "Blues Venom" and the aptly-named "Kickin Blues Ass," while Ramirez also shows up again on this cut.

Most of the songs on this CD are originals, but the band works in a few covers such as Slim Harpo's "King Bee." This one bears little resemblance to the Excello Records version recorded by Harpo.

After a couple of live cuts that threaten to take everyone over the edge, the disc ends with a tribute to the late bluesman Phillip Walker, "Wiskey Women And Fast Cars" (sic). This blues shuffle features some nice piano playing from Harlen Spector.

No Cure! is not music for the faint of heart. It's not something you're going to put on in the background during a relaxing meal. It's not going to be an essential disc in your collection. But if hard drivin' guitar blues/rock is your thing, then check it out at Gordon's website. Or if you're cruising the back streets of Southern California, look for them at a tavern near you.

--- Bill Mitchell

Pascal Bokar ThiamThere have been several books published over the years that included tracing the roots of the blues back to its origins in West Africa. However, very few of these books have covered the subject comprehensively, or have been written from the perspective of the West African. Dr. Pascal Bokar Thiam has taken care of that shortcoming with the publication of From Timbuktu to The Mississippi Delta: How West African Standards and Aesthetics Shaped the Music of the Delta Blues (Cognella).

Dr. Thiam serves on the faculty of the University of San Francisco and the French American International School. He teaches jazz and world music courses in the Performing Arts Division. He also plays guitar and sings and is of French and Senegalese descent. His book covers the history of West Africa, tracing its culture from ancient times (the empires of Ghana, Mali, and Songhai) to the days when the region opened trade with Europe, Asia, and Arabia, thereby spreading the culture to other areas, especially their music.

Dr. Thiam also shows how the region spread their culture throughout the world via the arts, and we see how many of the instruments used a thousand years ago are still making music today in somewhat modified forms. Unfortunately, many times the culture was spread against their will as many West Africans became part of the slave trade, but they carried their music with them to other countries, and it played a major role in the development of the blues.

There are many colorful pictures and illustrations in the book of African artifacts, dancers, musicians, instruments, and their modern counterparts. Of course, the author knows his subject well, but wisely he doesn’t talk above his readers’ heads. His prose is sharp and easy to understand. It’s the best kind of book….it educates and entertains at the same time. From Timbuktu to The Mississippi Delta is highly recommended for students of history and the blues.

Pascal Bokar ThiamAs previously mentioned, Dr. Thiam is a guitarist and singer, and he also has a CD available, called Savanna Jazz Club (Savanna Jazz Records), which focuses on the blues side of jazz, mixed with Sengelese rhythms. Dr. Thiam’s fleet-fingered style and and rich tone will remind you of jazz masters like Grant Green, George Benson and Wes Montgomery. He works through a diverse set of standards (Charlie Parker’s “Donna Lee,” Dizzy Gillespie’s “Tanga,” “How High The Moon,” and Green’s “Out of Nowhere,” with support from a percussion section that includes jazz drummer Donald “Duck” Bailey, and a quartet of Senegelese drummers. You don’t have to be a jazz fan to enjoy this set. Good music transcends genres and Savanna Jazz Club qualifies as good music.

--- Graham Clarke

Steve GerardI’m always open to hearing musicians take the blues in new directions, but when somebody makes the attempt to do a recording like they used to be done in the ’50s or early ’60s, it always puts a hop in my step. Such an example is the latest release by Steve Gerard & the National Debonaires, called Voodoo Workin’ (Blue Edge Records). This latest release, their third overall, finds the band shifting somewhat from the jump blues and shuffles of their first two efforts and moving more toward Southern blues and soul, with the able assistance of Jackson, MS-based singer James “Rock” Gray.

Gray’s smooth, relaxed vocal style suits the material perfectly. Of the ten tracks, seven will be familiar to most blues fans, ranging from the swamp blues of Charles Sheffield’s title track and Jimmy Anderson’s “Ain’t Gonna Let Her Go,” which opens the disc, to Chicago-style (Willie Mabon’s “Michelle” ) to Crescent City R&B (Fats Domino’s “My Girl Josephine” and Jay McNeely’s “There Is Something On Your Mind”) to jazzy swing (Nappy Brown’s “My Girl”). Gray also contributes three original compositions (“Please Stay With Me,” “One of These Days,” and “Sweet Little Woman,” all of which lean toward the soul/R&B side.

The Debonaires are a tight little unit. Gerard’s guitar work, economical, but on the money, is impressive. The rest of the band (keyboardist Mike Sedovic, drummer Dwight Ross, Jr., bass player Preston Hubbard, tenor sax man Doug James, and harmonica player Greg Demchuk) are outstanding.

If old school blues and soul in a southern vein are what you’re looking for, Steve Gerard & the National Debonaires have just what you need with Voodoo Workin’. This is the real deal, folks!

--- Graham Clarke

Samantha Fish22-year-old singer/guitarist Samantha Fish’s Coming-Out Party continues with her stunning debut release for Ruf Records, Runaway. The Kansas City dynamo was already turning heads with her performance on the recent Ruf release, Girls With Guitars, where she shared the spotlight with Dani Wilde and Cassie Taylor, along with the accompanying tour, which is still going strong. Taylor lends a hand on Runaway, playing bass and contributing background vocals, and GWG producer, Mike Zito, produces this release as well.

From the opening track, the hard-driving “Down In The Swamp,” it’s obvious that Fish is something special. She’s equally comfortable with fast-paced boogie tracks (the great title track), soulful blues (“Today’s My Day”), hard rock (“Leavin’ Kind”), blues/rock (“Push Comes To Shove,” with Zito sharing lead vocals), roots (“Louisiana Rain”), and even jazz (the closer, “Feelin’ Alright,” which also features a sultry vocal from Fish).

If you’ve heard Girls With Guitars, you already know what a powerhouse guitarist Fish is, but her vocals really stand out on Runaway, due to their versatility. She’s as close to a total package as one can get at the tender age of 22. This is a strong debut release that foreshadows even more good things down the road for Samantha Fish.

--- Graham Clarke

Mary FlowerMisery Loves Company, the latest release from Mary Flower on Yellow Dog Records, finds the amazing guitarist pairing up with some of roots music’s finest musicians, mostly based in the Portland, Oregon area where she lives. The result is a stripped-down affair that really brings Flower’s talents, incredible technique and interpretive skills, to the forefront on a dozen songs mixing stunning original compositions with well thought-out recreations of classic blues tunes.

You might be familiar with some of the guests on Misery Loves Company. Colin Linden, the lone non-Portland resident on the disc, has played a prominent role in some of the best roots/blues music of the past couple of years (including producing fellow Yellow Dog artist Eden Brent’s latest effort). He did final mixing on this disc and also added electric dobro to Flower’s haunting “Way Down In The Bottom.” Harmonica player Curtis Salgado helps Flower open the disc with the laidback romp, “Hard Days Blues,” and noted jazz pianist and composer Dave Frishberg lights up her darkly humorous “I’m Dreaming of Your Demise.”

Other highlights include a gentle interpretation of Son House’s “Death Letter Blues,” that pairs Flower with guitarist Alan Hagar, “Jitters,” with tuba player Mark Vehrencamp, Tampa Red’s “Boogie Woogie Dance,” featuring some of Flower’s outstanding slide guitar along with bassist Jesse Withers, “Recession Rag,” with mandolin player Brian Oberlin, and “Shake Sugaree,” with Johnny B. Connolly on accordion. On the final track, “Scrapper’s Blues”, Flower goes it alone, paying tribute instrumentally to one of her musical heroes, Scrapper Blackwell.

Mary Flower has enjoyed a lengthy career in music, over 30 years, travelling just under the musical radar most of the time, despite the fact that she’s one of the best guitarists currently performing. Misery Loves Company proves that fact and ranks with her best work. This is great music to enjoy while riding the porch swing on an easy Sunday afternoon.

--- Graham Clarke

Bernie PearlFor over 50 years, Bernie Pearl has been playing blues guitar, working as a DJ, producer, and leading his own band. His last project was the ambitious and impressive 2008 double-CD set called Old School Blues, which paid tribute to his musical influences, both acoustic and electric. His latest release is a live set, recorded at Boulevard Music in Culver City, CA, called Sittin’ on the Right Side of the Blues (Major Label Recordings).

Accompanied only by Michael Barry on upright bass, Pearl rips through a 15 song set that features six original compositions mixed with nine well-chosen covers, ranging from tunes written by Lightnin’ Hopkins (“Jailhouse Blues” and “Shinin’ Moon”), Mance Lipscomb (“Night Time Is The Right Time”), Fred McDowell (“New Hollow Log Blue,” “I Believe I’ll Carry My Hook,” and “Shake ‘em Down”), Son House (“Shetland Pony Blues”), Muddy Waters (“Can’t Be Satisfied”), and a song from the obscure Louisiana country bluesman Herman Johnson (“I Keeps On Wanting You”). Though some of these songs will be familiar to most blues fans, Pearl manages to breathe new life into them.

The originals are all solid and include the autobiographical title track, a pair of nice instrumentals (“Outside Boogie” and the Mississippi John Hurt tribute….or is it…. “I Ain’t Hurt”), and the humorous “Flat-Footed,” which was inspired in part by long time collaborator Harmonica Fats, and “I’m Up A Tree.”
Pearl’s warm, confident vocals are spot-on. Wisely, he doesn’t try to emulate the original singers, but does them in his own voice, which serves just fine, thank you. His guitar work indicates that he learned his lessons well from most of these artists over the years. He also enjoys a nice rapport with the audience that carries over to the listener.

In short, with Sittin’ on the Right Side of the Blues, Bernie Pearl has presented us with an enjoyable recording of acoustic blues favorites, along with some cool new songs, that deserves a spot in any acoustic guitar fan’s steady rotation.

--- Graham Clarke

Sean ChambersOne of 2009’s best blues releases was Sean ChambersTen ‘Til Midnight, which accumulated a boatload of favorable press from various publications (including this one) and remained on the Living Blues chart for the first three months after its release and got lots of airplay in the U.S. and overseas. For an encore, Chambers has issued Live from the Long Island Blues Warehouse (Blue Heat Records), which captures one of his incendiary live performances from earlier this year.

Chambers offers up 11 smoking-hot tracks, most of them faithfully reprising songs from his previous three CDs, backed by his powerful band (Paul Broderick – drums, Tim Blair – bass, Gary Keith – harmonica). In a way, this set represents a “Best of….to date” collection, which will come in handy for those fans who have not heard the standout songs from Chambers’ first two releases, such as “Strong Temptation,” “Crazy For Loving You,” “Danger Zone,” and the psychedelic instrumental opener, “Dixie 45.”

Chambers also pulls out a pair of great cover tunes, including The Kinsey Report’s classic “Full Moon on Main Street” and a scorching version of Elmore James’ “Dust My Broom.” There’s also one new original, the aptly titled “Hip Shake Boogie.” The real show stopper, however, is the 10-minute-plus Guitar Heaven closer, “In the Winter Time,” from his last CD.

If you liked Sean Chambers’ last CD, you will love his latest one. It grabs you from the get-go and refuses to turn you loose. I promise you won’t mind though.

--- Graham Clarke

Louisiana RedLouisiana Red’s last release, Back to the Black Bayou, was nominated for five Blues Music Awards in 2010, winning two of the prestigious awards at the ceremony in Memphis. Two days later, Red was in a Memphis studio, leading an awesome band led by guitarist/producer Little Victor and harmonica wizard Bob Corritore through the paces for his latest release on Ruf Records, Memphis Mojo.

As on the previous release, which he also produced, Little Victor captures perfectly the rawness and intensity of Louisiana Red. Red wrote 11 of the 12 tracks here, two co-written with Victor, and despite his prolific recording schedule over the past couple of decades, his songs maintain their freshness and originality. The session has the feel and atmosphere of a ’50s-era recording from Chess Records, especially on songs like “Goodbye Blues” “Yolanda,” “Your Loving Man,” and “Why Don’t You Come On Home.” The album’s lone cover is a reworking of Blind Lemon Jefferson’s “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean.”

Red’s roughhewn, gravelly vocals are top notch, as always, and the guitar interplay between him (particularly his slide work) and Little Victor is flawless. Corritore provides his usual stellar support on harmonica, filling in the gaps with just the right touch and never failing to impress with his solos. Also on hand to lend first-rate support are David Maxwell (keys), The Hawk (guitar, maracas), Bill Troiani and Mookie Brill (bass), and Alex Pettersen (drums).

Memphis Mojo is loaded from top to bottom with great, atmospheric downhome blues from a man who doesn’t know how to play the blues any other way. You can’t go wrong with any Louisiana Red recordings, and this one certainly sits near the top of the heap.

--- Graham Clarke

Duke RobillardLow Down and Tore Up (Stony Plain) is a tribute to the early stars of Rhythm & Blues, lovingly presented by Duke Robillard. On this, his 18th release for Stony Plain, Robillard and his band (Bruce Bears and Matt McCabe – keys, Brad Hallen – bass, Mark Teixeira – drums, Sax Beadle – you guessed it, sax) stray from the norm a bit and rip through a marvelous set of R&B tunes from the ’40s and ’50s, songs that Robillard grew up with and loved.

The 14 tracks include two apiece from Eddie “Guitar Slim” Jones (the opening tune, “Quicksand,” and the closer, “Later For You Baby”), Tampa Red (“Mercy Mercy Mama” and “Let Me Play With Your Poodle,” both of which feature former band mate McCabe on piano), Sugar Boy Crawford (the frantic “Overboard,” with Teixeira on vocals, and “What’s Wrong”), Pee Wee Crayton (a masterful version of “Blues After Hours” and a rocking “Do Unto Others”), and Elmore James (a rousing “Tool Bag Boogie” and “The 12 Year Old Boy”). Other choice covers come from Jimmy McCracklin (“It’s Alright), Bobby “Blues” Merrill (the jazzy jump blues, “I Ain’t Mad At You”), John Lee Hooker (“Want Ad Blues”), and Eddie Taylor (“Trainfare Home”).

It’s obvious, from the opening notes, that this is a labor of love for Robillard. His guitar work is as inspired as ever, and his vocals are just right for the material. These are songs that he enjoys as much today as when he first heard them as a youngster. Low Down and Tore Up ranks near the top on Duke Robillard’s already impressive list of Stony Plain releases and will please fans of low down dirty blues and R&B, just like they used to do it.

--- Graham Clarke

Ian SiegalIn the ’60s, numerous British musicians like the Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac made the pilgrimage to the U.S. to record with American bluesmen, which eventually resulted in many of those blues artists like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Sonny Boy Williamson, and others like Little Walter, Elmore James, and Big Bill Broonzy, an opportunity to receive more exposure from the young record-buying public, most of whom wanted to know more about where this great music came from.

In the 21st century, British blues rocker Ian Siegal continues this tradition by travelling to Mississippi to record with an all-star cast of Hill Country musicians, hopefully to achieve the same results. Siegal’s latest effort is The Skinny (Nugene Records), a genre-buster that originated in the late Jim Dickinson’s North Mississippi studio. His backing band took on the name The Youngest Sons, an appropriate moniker given their background. Drummer Cody Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars) is the youngest son of Jim Dickinson, guitarist/bassist Garry Burnside is the late R.L. Burnside’s youngest son, guitarist Robert Kimbrough is the youngest son of Junior Kimbrough, and drummer Robb Bland is the youngest son of soul/blues legend Bobby “Blue” Bland. Rounding out the band is even more impressive musicians – Alvin Youngblood Hart (guitar/vocals), Andre Turner (fife, vocals), R.L.’s grandson Duwayne Burnside (drums), and Quintez (drums).

Siegal’s feral growl is the perfect match for these 11 tracks, ranging from the menacing title track with opens the disc and serves as a fitting introduction for what’s ahead. “Stud Spider,” written by Tony Joe White mixes rap, blues, and the swamp with Kimbrough’s masterful solo and Dickinson’s electrified washboard (called a “woogieboard”). Other highlights include “Hound Dog In The Manger,” with more strong fretwork from Kimbrough, “Picnic Jam,” a light-hearted romp which features Garry Burnside on vocals and guitars, with Hart providing vocal support, “Natch’l Low (Coolin’ Board),” a “Rollin’ and Tumblin” melody featuring a triple-guitar assault from Siegal, Garry Burnside, and Kimbrough, and “Devil’s In The Details,” a traditional fife and drum track with call-and-response vocals and Andre Turner’s fife.

The disc concludes with a couple of noteworthy tunes, “Garry’s Night Out,” features Siegal on bottleneck guitar with Garry Burnside adding eerie vocals that are strongly reminiscent of another young Mississippi bluesman from over a half century ago. The closer, “Hopper (Blues For Dennis),” is Siegal’s tribute to the late actor and ends the album on a high note, and serves as a tour de force for Siegal’s scorching guitar.

The Skinny is a blistering set of rocked-out Mississippi Hill Country blues. Siegal’s the real deal with his rugged vocals and guitar, and he’s got an excellent band in support. This is a strong release from start to finish that you will be playing over and over.

--- Graham Clarke

Whiteboy JamesWhiteboy James & the Blues Express have been a part of the West Coast blues scene since the late 1980s, epitomizing the hard-edged modern L.A. sound, gritty and grungy. Their latest release, on Rip Cat Records, is called Extreme Makeover and serves as a primer on the modern West Coast sound. James’ powerhouse vocals and harmonica is aided by guitarist Scott Abeyta, bass player Blake Watson, and the appropriately named drummer Max Bangwell. Over the past 30 to 40 years, these musicians have backed such familiar names as Hollywood Fats, Robert Lucas, William Clarke, Rob Piazza, T-Bone Walker, Ike Turner, George “Harmonica” Smith, and James Harman.

Extreme Makeover includes several familiar songs from the band’s repertoire, such as “Excuse Me for Scribblin’” and the countrybillyfied “Zerg, Shotgun, & You.” The bluesy shuffle “Mean Mistreat’n Woman” features some tasty guitar from Abeyta, as does the rocking “Gold Brick Bar,” though in more of a rock and roll vein. “Night Train Wine” leans more toward the R&B side of the blues, with some additional great guitar work, while “Slow Down and Let Me Love You” is a showcase for Whiteboy James’ harmonica.

Ten of the tracks are originals and are notable for their originality and wit. The pair of covers are a couple of keepers --- the aforementioned “Slow Down and Let Me Love You,” penned by Ike Turner, and a roaring, rocking version of Willie Dixon’s chestnut, “I’m Ready.”

If you like your blues down and dirty, with an eye to the blues sounds of yesteryear, Whiteboy James & the Blues Express offer just what you’re looking for with this smoking set.

--- Graham Clarke

Rob Lutes and Rob MacDonaldRob Lutes & Rob MacDonald have been playing together for over ten years. The duo’s most recent release, Live, was recorded at the cozy Le Red Room, about 90 minutes out of Montreal in the town of Glenn Sutton. The intimate setting, clean, crisp sound, and the appreciative audience, not to mention the seamless interplay between the artists, make this one of the best live albums you’ve heard. The pair’s striking, understated playing and rapport set the standard for live recordings. Lutes plays guitar and handles the vocals, while MacDonald serves as a perfect complement on Resophonic guitar.

Of the 14 tracks, ten were written by Lutes, and most appeared on his previous discs. Standout originals include the opener, “Uptight,” “I Know A Girl,” inspired from a line in a Robert Johnson tune, “I Will Stand By You,” previously recorded by Dawn Tyler Watson, “I Still Love You,” “Keep A Man Down,” and a tribute to singer/songwriter Chris Whitley, “If The Blues Don’t Shake You.” The four cover tunes include Sleepy John Estes’ “Drop Down Baby,” transformed into an acoustic guitar workout, a lively take on the traditional “Ain’t Noboby’s Business,” the Chris Whitley-penned “Phone Call From Leavenworth,” and the Bee Gees hit, “To Love Somebody.”

Lutes’ guitar work is first rate and his gravelly vocals sometimes are reminiscent of John Hiatt, as is his songwriting. MacDonald’s accompaniment is sublime. He’s always right where he needs to be. The understated backing vocals from Jozy Fever and Claire Hayek blend in perfectly. If you’re an acoustic guitar fan, you must have this recording. You will have to search far and wide to find a better live recording of its kind.

--- Graham Clarke

The Bottoms Up Blues GangOut of St. Louis, The Bottoms Up Blues Gang has been together for over a decade, mixing the St. Louis blues and New Orleans jazz. Sultry singer Kari Liston and singer/guitarist Jeremy Segel-Moss front an impressive array of local musicians playing an equally impressive array of instruments, including kazoo. The band’s third release, on Blue Skunk Records, is called Handle It.

Liston and Segal-Moss wrote nine of the ten tunes here and they vary from the opening title track, which serves as background for the St. Louis blues scene, to the jaunty kazoo/clarinet-fueled “First of May” and the harmonica-driven “New World Blues.” “More I Get, The Less I Got” is a delicious slice of Memphis soul complete with tight horn section and burbly Hammond B3. “If Only” is a lovely slow blues that features Liston’s gentle vocals backed only by Segal-Moss’ guitar and Adam Andrews’ harmonica.

“Show Your Love,” with its punchy horns and keyboards, sounds for all the world like a Crescent City R&B chestnut from long ago, and “Quick Fix for Livin’” is a delta-flavored tune. The album’s lone cover is a dandy --- a reworking of Ray Charles’ “Drown In My Own Tears,” which features the guitar work of St. Louis blues legend Bennie Smith, who passed away shortly after this recording.

Handle It is basically a love letter to the city of St. Louis and its music, but listening to the diverse set of tunes presented by The Bottoms Up Blues Band, one discovers that the St. Louis blues has roots in many places, from New Orleans to the Delta to Memphis and points beyond. This is a nice piece of work that deserves to be heard.

--- Graham Clarke


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