Compilation albums can be a source of new music and artists, even if they do tend to be too varied for some tastes. Having said that, when you get nineteen tracks, the value level is high and this latest ‘various artists’ release to come my way also fights back against the pandemic to give the eleven artists (assuming you get the digital version for the three bonus tracks) chance to still reach an audience and they certainly provide a varied and oft refreshing take on the beloved blues.
Called Backyard Blues it was put together by the Blues Society of Central Pennsylvania after their weekly blues jam sessions were curtailed by the crisis, they moved online via Zoom (which is an iced lolly to this old git!) and were joined by two, ‘out of state’ guests… Crooked Eye Tommy (Nashville, Tennessee) and Miss Bix (Malibu, California) and one from another part of Pennsylvania; Clarence Spady (Scranton). These three provide the ‘bonuses’.
With so much on offer, I will restrict myself to summaries by artist rather than every track and I apologise for not listing the participating musicians, but I couldn’t find details…but well done to everyone that took part.
Opening up is a band called Blues On The Loose with their sole contribution, A Bad Influence; a well executed blues shuffle with notable guitar and bass contributions and a tasty organ and harp/guitar duet. Next is Buzzard Luck with two songs: a southernism rock and the different, impressive, slide driven Keyhole. This has a twin slide guitar intro…lovely; they stay with the melody too and, although the occasionally let rip, it would have been really nice to have had a blistering duet/solo…ah well.
Rose Hudson With Barrelhouse brings two songs, both with energy and a hint of soul; the best of the two being the well structured The Blues Will Burn Ya with a neat harp solo. Rocky & The House Band get two too…both quality blues-rock with Since We’ve Been Apart having an edge with its Black Velvet like backing and an imaginative piano and guitar solos.
Nate Myers Trio with their two get my vote by utilising the great blues song, Catfish Blues, and combine with their own It’s My music. With harp and simple but effective bass and percussion, it’s great fun. Favourite because of their name, The Mighty Klucks, get two; C Jam is
the better with its traditional but different shuffle and great guitar…pity this instrumental is only three minutes. Bob Wineland & The House Band have two too: What Have You Done For Me lately wins with great bass, guitar and a superb Hammond solo. Ben Brandt Trio get just one and make the best of it with a swinging, heavy blues and a rather good guitar solo to make Nameless, one of the top picks. Roger Hammer has a Jean Genie phrasing (or Sweet or a few others use this simple but effective chord sequence) on the nice blues of Love or Money and a sterling guitar solo helps.
The guests are next, with Crooked Eye Tommy serving Hot Coffee and Pain with a bluesy, horny, Hammondy song with a sax solo in the middle that percolates (sorry!) nicely. Miss Bix feat. Keeshea Pratt bring a funky touch, a hint of soul and together provide a nice blend to the blues, rounded off nicely with a thoughtful, crafted guitar solo. The final song is by Clarence Spady who takes a few well-known blues tropes and blends them very neatly into a soulful blues that is backed by some superb Hammond, bass and guitar.
In summary, here is a collection of original blues delivered by diverse and very capable bands…it has something for everyone and very few ‘skippers’. The playing is a very high standard and each contributor brings taste and skill to the table.
Bluesdoodles rating: 3 Doodle Paws – Great Listening and a chance to explore some lesser-known but rewarding artists showing their interpretation of our beloved genre.
A Bad Influence ~ Blues On The Loose
Keyhole ~ Buzzard Luck
Outside Cat ~ Rose Hudson With Barrelhouse
Since We’ve Been Apart ~Rocky & The House Band
Catfish Blues/It’s My Music ~ Nate Myers Trio
C Jam ~ The Mighty Klucks
Trouble All Over The World ~ Bob Wineland & The House Band
Nameless ~ Ben Brandt Trio
Love Or Money ~ Roger Hammer 3.30
Ball And Chain ~ Rocky & The House Band
The Blues Will Burn Ya ~ Rose Hudson With Barrelhouse
What Have You Done For Me Lately ~ Bob Wineland & The House Band
Is That What You Want? ~ Nate Myers Trio
More Whiskey ~ The Mighty Klucks
Walkin’ Round Blues ~ Roger Hammer
True Force Of Nature ~ Buzzard Luck
Hot Coffee & Pain ~ Crooked Eye Tommy
Red Walls ~ Miss Bix feat. Keeshea Pratt
Surrender ~ Clarence Spady
(The iTunes run on track (courtesy of Apple’s strange filing system) delivered one of the best albums of 2012; Claude Hay with the most lovely I Love Hate You…great title, great performance.)