Blues Bytes

Pick Hit

April 2017

Monster Mike Welch and Mike Ledbetter
Right Place, Right Time
Delta Groove

Monster Mike Welch

Well, having seen the Youtube video of the Otis Rush tribute that Monster Mike Welch and Mike Ledbetter were a part of at last year’s Chicago Blues Festival, it didn’t take a genius to figure out that something magical was happening there. Something that needed to be nourished and brought to fruition. Fortunately, both Mikes felt it as well, and kudos to Delta Groove for getting enthusiastically behind their vision. Right Place, Right Time is the perfect name for their debut disc on the label; and an all-star cast of friends helped them bring it to life.

An intricate guitar solo from Monster Mike Welch sets the tone for our first track, “Cry For Me Baby,” and Mike is dealing with the emotions he feels for the woman he loves and the pain she’s causing him. “I wake up every morning…and my pillow’s soaking wet…from all these tears, tears, tears…oh, why won’t you let me be…now, I wish, just once…you would cry for me.” Anthony Geraci chimes in with a stellar piano solo and we’re off and running. An impassioned guitar solo from Monster Mike sets the mood for our next track, “I Can’t Please You,” and here we find Mike just trying to figure out how to love the woman in his life and he’s failing miserably. “I brought you happiness when you were sad…even made you smile when you were mad…leaving you baby…may make you mad…but soon you’ll realize…what a good man you have.” There’s not much else for Mike to do but walk away and move on.

“Kay Marie” is our next track, and Laura Chavez is providing the intro guitar solo for this tune. “I need to find my baby…just to keep my eyes from crying…I can’t help myself…trying to find my mind.” Mike has all the friends in the world but he feels alone because his girl, Kay Marie, is not giving him the tender voice and touch that he needs. Next up is a Willie Dixon track, “I Can’t Stop Baby,” and Mike more than does the tune justice. “Well…my heart beats like thunder, baby….my tears fall like rain…oh, can’t complain about my baby…she might be…loving some other man.” This one feels doomed to fail and it might be best if Mike just moved on from her.

I love the horns from Sax Gordon and Doug James in the intro to “Down Home Girl,” and here we find Mike perfectly content with the woman he loves. “Every time that you move like that…I gots to get down and pray…don’t you know…that dress of yours…made out of fiberglass…every time you move like that…I got to go to Sunday mass…oh…you’re some kind of…down home girl.” This girl definitely has attracted Mike’s attention and he’s content to stay with her and see how it all plays out…with “the down home girl.” Tempo definitely picks up for our next track, “How Long Can This Go On,” and Mike comes home to find his woman’s gone. “Couldn’t sleep last night…going to tell you what to do…give up the dames…nobody but you…and I’ll make you feel good…like a woman should.” Turns out he’s homeless and needs a place to stay, the easiest solution…find a new chick.

An original tune, “Big Mama,” by Mike Ledbetter is up next and again it’s Monster Mike’s guitar leading the way. “Big Mama…I love you…I can’t sleep inside…oh, baby…don’t you hurt me…just one touch and my shirt’s on fire…I’m going to pawn my heart…cause it’s tearing me apart.” Whatever Mike needs, Big Mama’s definitely got it and he’s going to do his best to make her his. The band segues to a Monster Mike tune, “I’m Gonna Move to Another Country,” and his guitar’s on fire in the intro to this track. “I’m going to move to another country…and maybe, I can get a job…yes, cause the way things are going nowadays…I may have to learn how to steal and rob.” Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that but it is harder and harder to earn a dollar, that’s for sure. “I gotta get up…can’t sit down no more…I’m going home tomorrow…cause I’ve been up all night long.”

Mike’s original tune, “Can’t Sit Down,” finds him seeking a rest from all of the night life he’s been experiencing and it sounds like some time at home will be good for him. Anthony Geraci and Monster Mike exchange fills and the rhythm section, Ronnie James Weber on bass and Marty Richards on the drums, are holding their own as well. "Cryin’ Won’t Help You,” a tune by Hudson Whittaker, is the next tune they tackle, and Mike has no sympathy for the woman he loves. “Cryin’s won’t help you now…cause you’ve been so mean to me.” She knows she’s in the wrong but there’s no way Mike is going to let her tears sway how he feels about the way he’s been mistreated.

An Elmore James tune, “Goodbye Baby,” is next and I love Mike’s vocal on this classic song. “Aw baby…here’s my right hand…I love you baby…can’t get you to understand…oh, bye…goodbye baby…baby, goodbye.” Mike let her down easy but it was time for her to go. The Mikes close out their disc with a tune from Monster Mike, “Brewster Avenue Bump,” and it’s a rousing instrumental that lets this very talented group of performers simply let it all hang out.

I don’t know that I can go as far as Dick Shurman, who postulated this opinion, “Right Place, Right Time marks a scintillating recording debut for a partnership that could be a modern day counterpart of Buddy Guy and Junior Wells”. That’s pretty high praise coming from a man so well-versed in Chicago Blues history, and I think we’ll have to let a few years pass before we can render that kind of judgment. But make no mistake about it, Right Place, Right Time is a statement record from two musicians with kindred spirits, making the best possible music they can, with a little help from their friends. The future is indeed bright for Monster Mike Welch and Mike Ledbetter, but we should let them enjoy the ride before giving them such giant shoes to fill.

You can find this record at either Monster Mike Welch’s website,, or the Delta Groove site at Either way, this disc is definitely one that will garner a lot of attention come awards time and I look forward to hearing the Mikes perform their own music here very soon.

--- Kyle Deibler



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