Monday, November 19, 2007

Robert Lighthouse's Blues For New Orleans

Robert Lighthouse is a Swedish native (real name Palinic) who settled in the Washington DC area about two decades ago and has established himself as an important part of the blues scene in the Mid-Atlantic. he has busked on the streets and played a variety of clubs. His regular weekday gig at the late club City Blues was a local institution. Today he plays a solo gig weekly at a club Chief Ike’s Mambo Room, and plays band gigs with his trio at various bars and clubs. Wayne Kahn, a champion of D.C.’s music scene recorded Robert and issued Lighthouse’s first album, Drive-Thru Love, which received considerable local and international acclaim. Now he has issued on his Right on Rhythm label, the follow-up album of location recordings, Deep Down in the Mud, which includes solo selections recorded at Chief Ike’s and band cuts recorded at D.C.'s Zoo Bar (The Oxford Tavern located across from the National Zoo). Robert has developed a distinctive style from a variety of influences including Muddy Waters, Dr. Ross and several others so that when he does Robert Johnson’s Last Fair Deal Gone Down and Preachin’ the Blues, his attack lacks the more percussive approach of Johnson and most imitators, and has a more flowing approach that is evocative of Furry Lewis. His original Stuck in the Mud and Dr. Ross’ Turkey Leg Woman are fine performances in a style suggestive of Dr. Ross, although his rendition of Cat’s Squirrel, Dr. Ross’ treatment of the Catfish Blues theme also shows a bit of Muddy Waters influence. The title track is not a blues, but a protest social commentary song about Katrina and the government’s inadequate response. The trio cuts include Lighthouse’s laconic rendition of Elmore James’ Red Hot Mama, totally reworking the melody, a nice cover of Magic Sam’s All Your Love, an understated treatment of Wolf’s Meet Me in the Bottom and an unusual piece of funk, a rendition of George Clinton’s Red Hot Mama. Lighthouse also has an attraction to Jimi Hendrix's music and included is a take on Spanish Castle Magic, but this somewhat lengthy rock performance I found somewhat less compelling than some of his prior Hendrix covers. Still, overall this album is an impressive follow-up release and illustrates why he maintains a loyal following in the DC area. This can be purchased at or

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