The Carolina Band, The King Bees, is celebrating 25 years of stingin' and swingin' as the cover to their latest recording Carolina Bound (Original High John Records) proclaims. The group is anchored around the bass, vocals and songs of Queen Bee Penny Zamagni and guitarist Hound Dog Baskerville Hound Dog Baskerville. The band has worked with and learned with so many great blues artists, some of whom (Jerry McCain, Nappy Brown, Carey Bell and Chick Willis) are featured on some of the performances here.
The King Bees play straight blues without any hard rock trappings. Their originals are idiomatic and display the same solid style that make them such a fine back-up band for the various blues legends they have supported over the years such as the late Nappy Brown on his solid rendition of Howlin' Wolf's Natchez Burning, and Carey Bell's What Mama Told Me, which was a staple of his repertoire. Chick Willis does a solid "Yonder's Wall," a regular feature of his performances.
The title track has the line about going to the Carolina's, but also a travelogue of the states as Penny sings about loving that Carolina sound, and Tarheel Slim, Pink Anderson, Nappy Brown, Maurice Williams and Drink Small is still around as she encourages guest Roy Roberts to strut his stuff as the pianist pounds the ivories. There is some nice slide guitar on this track as well. Roberts also adds guitar to the nice blues-ballad You Were There, while McCain adds tough harmonica on the shuffle Run Your Reputation Down. One of the group's originals Its Tight, makes use of a melody that evokes Rocket 88.
There is nothing revolutionary about The King Bees latest recording. Carolina Bound just has some solid straight-ahead blues played with feeling. It is available on amazon, cdbaby and itunes.
I received my review copy from The King Bees.