Thursday, February 02, 2012

Big Pete's Choice Blues Cuts

Pieter ‘Big Pete’ van der Plujim is from the Netherlands and was musically inspired by the mix of classic Chicago style blues and punk attitude that the late Lester Butler displayed before immersing himself in a whole range of blues. This singer and harmonica player was heard by Randy Chortkorff who signed him to Delta Groove which has released Choice Cuts, a strong release that might be described as “West Coast Blues’ in the vein of Williams Clarke, Junior Watson and the like.

On Choice Cuts, Big Pete is backed by a splendid band including Alex Schultz on guitar, Willie J. Campbell on bass and Jimi Bott on drums with guest appearances by, among others, Johnny Dyer, Al Blake, Kim Wilson, Paul Oscher, Kirk Fletcher, Shawn Pittman, Kid Ramos, and Rob Rio. He comes across as an engaging singer (and one would be hard-pressed to detect that he was not a native English speaker)and harmonica player throughout this collection.

The songs are ‘covers,’ but none are not overly familiar and Big Pete turns in driving, engaging performances. The tone is established with the tough rendition of Lester Butler’s Driftin’, and followed by a lesser known Albert king number Can’t You See What You’re Doing To Me. Kim Wilson plays harmonica for the solid rendition of Jimmy Rogers’ Act Like You Love Me, while Kirk Fletcher adds some striking guitar to the covers of a Muddy Waters’ classic, Just To Be With You, and Hey Lawdy Mama. Alex Schultz gets a nice spot on Slim Harpo’s Don’t Start me Crying Now.

The rendition of the Billy Boy Arnold Vee-Jay recording I Was Fooled is taken at a bit slower tempo than the original, with the band pushing the groove along. Kid Ramos channels Willie Johnson on his lead guitar on the rendition of Howlin’ Wolf Rockin’ Daddy, with Rob Rio laying down some boogie woogie piano. Johnny Dyer takes the vocal on Jimmy Rogers’ You Left Me With A Broken Heart, with fine harp from Big Pete and some great piano from Rob Rio. Big Pete’s fat harmonica tone is displayed on Little Walter’s Little Walter’s Just Your Fool, while William Clarke’s Chromatic Crumbs showcases Pete's swinging facility on that type of harmonica.

This is a fine collection of spirited blues performances that may not break any new ground, but certainly introduces us to a spirited and impressive performer that will delight fans of contemporary West Coast and harmonica blues.

My review copy was provided by Delta Groove Productions. Here is a video of Big Pete performing.

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