Monday, November 28, 2011

Big Daddy's Stallings Blues Evolution

There is plenty of blues talent in many cities of any size. Often responsibilities of raising a family and earning a living derail or suspend musical careers. One of the delightful surprises of the past few years in the Washington DC area has been the emergence of Charles ‘Big Daddy’ Stallings and this review appeared several years back in the DC Blues Society newsletter. A review of his most recent CD will be posted in a few days.

B-Town (Baltimore) bluesman, Charles ‘Big Daddy’ Stallings, has just issued, Blues Evolution (Tai Jeria Music), a follow-up to his praised debut One Night Lover. Stallings is a highly likable performer who brings a bit of down-home flavor to his performances. The strength of the performances are the vocals and the solid accompaniments behind him. The mix of horns and fine down home harp (mostly contributed by Nighthawk Mark Wenner, but Steve Levine is also present on a track or two) is nicely done and saxophonist Joe ‘EFlat’ Thomas, responsible for the arrangements, merits mention.

Stallings is at his best on a nice Jimmy Reed groove like on Going Down South, Hard Times - Good Times and the fantastical 2999. Hobbsville #2 is a slow down-home talking blues that is a follow-up of the talking blues on the first track as he talks about growing up, family and Friday Night Fish Fries with some telling harp from Mark Wenner, although the tempo slowly accelerates during this performance tossing in a bit of Jimmy Reed’s Upside Your Head. Elsewhere there are plenty of good-time grooves and songs like Blues Line Dance and Blues Cowboy certainly will get the dance floor full.

The only significant weakness are the lyrics which don’t cohere and some (like 2999) are fantastical. There are plenty of overlooked songs that do merit revival which Stallings performs during his live performances and he should consider addling some in to the mix on his next recording project. Still his band provides very danceable grooves (swing dancers will love this) and Big Daddy Stallings delivers the songs with feeling and humor that the music’s good-time sensibility wins listeners over. This is available from and downloadable on itunes.

I received a review copy from the artist. Here is a video of Charles 'Big Daddy' Stallings in performance.

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