Rodio is either a place near Rome, or Italian for Rhodium…here however it applies to a new, to me at least, blues guitarist called Breezy Rodio. He moved to New York and then Chicago after immigrating to the US and his latent skills on the guitar were picked up by the well-known bluesman Lindsey Alexander; sometimes called the ‘Hootchie Man’ for obvious reasons. Rodio played in his band and appeared on three of his albums. He also has two independently released albums to his credit and has now released his first on a major blues label, Delmark records.
Sometimes The Blues Got Me is seventeen tracks coming in at just over an hour and contains eleven Rodio compositions and six covers. He has put together a strong band behind his guitar and vocals and together they have created a horn filled approach to the blues. I won’t dissect every track of the seventeen, just my highlights…not an easy task.
Opener, Don’t Look Now, But I’ve Got the Blues, was composed by Lee Hazlewood and recorded by BB King. The guitar intro and punctuation is smooth and very BB in style as befits such a cover. His voice does show a ‘warble’ on some notes but many blues guitarists’ voices come second to the primary voice…that of a well-played guitar. Get past that, and this is a very good cover. Another King is covered, this time it’s Albert, on Wrapped Up In love Again and here Rodio excels on the guitar as he seems to have the ghost of Albert in that guitar as the string bends and tone are so accurate. T-Bone Walker’s jump blues number, I Walked Away, sounds as though it was recorded in the 1940s on decent equipment as the big-band sound behind some very fluid guitar playing makes this a joy. BB is back on Make Me Blue, again has amazing insight and empathy in the guitar playing and the backing is just that, allowing the guitar to shine…it is that that makes this my favourite of the covers. Of the originals, the title track is a brilliant interpretation of the construct behind nearly every established blues song…both lyrically and through the gentle horns, subtle piano with the bass and drums using their full range to expand on the basic rhythms. Over all of this, the guitar is ‘speaking’ like every King and with nods to more recent legends like SRV. The instrumental, A Cool Breeze In Hell, takes the ‘favourite’ accolade for the originals as it is again perfect in the way it is today but conjures the greats of yesterday with a load of lovely guitar and those Albert King style string bends that just give extra feeling to an excellent track. One Of A Kind is a funky Albert Collins style song and has brilliant organ backing and solo and the thumb style playing of Rodio that shows he can do different too. Closing the album is a tune from the Chicago Blues All Stars catalogue. Chicago Is Loaded With The Blues, is a slow blues with piano and harp bringing a true Chicago dynamic to the song and is a solid way to finish.
So, over seventeen tracks and just over an hour running time it is apparent that Rodio is a competent singer, although his slight accent and limited range take some getting used to…but when you do, it becomes no issue as you revel in the music behind it. Importantly he is a versatile guitarist who can play well in a range of styles. The covers are done well, and the originals have an attraction of their own.
This is an album for blues lovers whose preferences are electric Chicago, but will also appeal to those, like me, who love to absorb the sounds of the blues whatever their origins. It is a strong label debut and I think the next one will be even better.
EIGHTdoodle paws out of TEN …
- Don’t Look Now, But I’ve Got The Blues (Lee Hazlewood)
- Change Your Ways
- Wrapped up in Love Again (Albert King)
- I Walked Away (T-Bone Walker)
- Make Me Blue (BB King)
- Let Me Tell You What’s Up
- Sometimes The Blues Got Me
- I Love You So
- You Don’t Drink Enough
- The Power of The Blues
- A Cool Breeze In Hell
- Doctor From The Hood
- Blues Stay Away From Me (Delmore Brothers)
- Fall In British Columbia
- Not Going To Worry
- One Of A Kind
- Chicago Is Loaded With The Blues (Clifton James)
Composed by Breezy Rodio except where noted.
Breezy Rodio: vocals and guitar
Sumito “Ariyo” Ariyoshi: piano
Chris Foreman: organ
Light Palone: acoustic and electric bass
Lorenzo Francocci: drums
Ian Letts: tenor sax; Constantine Alexander and Art Davis: trumpets; Ian “The Chief” McGarrie: saxophones
Billy Branch: Harmonica