Thursday, April 12, 2012

Roy Gaines Takes His Blues In The House

In the House on Crosscut adds to the growing number of recent CDs by Roy Gaines. This is one of a series of discs taken from performances at Switzerland’s Lucerne Blues Festival. Gaines put on a stunning performance to close the 2001 D.C. Blues Festival, and this performance was recorded a couple months after that performance.

There are fervent renditions of Hind Ends and Elbows and W.C. Handy Sang the Blues from Gaines excellent New Frontier Lover Severn album, along with Southern Women (“I just love southern Women” he sings here)” and Lucille Works For Me (where he playfully sings about becoming the master of B.B. King’s guitar.” Other songs are less familiar like the oddly-titled Standing Up For Women’s Rights, where Gaines sings that there ought to be a law about a woman giving away her love to someone new.

The opening of Wolfman suggests the guitar accompaniment to the Bobby Bland’s hit Further On the Road, before Gaines sings about being a wolf sniffing his woman’s trail and howling for the woman to let him in. There are places where Gaines plays in the vein of his mentor, T-BoneWalker, although his dirty guitar tone here is far removed from Walker’s classic sound. Gaines’ driving playing and shouted vocals are complemented by a punchy horns section and strong solos from saxophonist Troy Jennings and Johnny Viau and trumpeter George Pandis. Pandis provided the brassy arrangements.

Petrol For Your Tank employs the same melody as Blueman For Life, the title track of Gaines’ comeback JSP album, with the band really gets a nice groove going. Pandis tears off a blistering solo here in addition to searing guitar from Gaines. For a complete change of pace, the album closes with an engaging rendition of Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans, which few other blues groups would try, much less handle as ably as Gaines. Few sing and play with the authority of Roy Gaines.

This review originally appeared in the May 2003 DC Blues Calendar. I do not recall if I received a review copy or purchased this. It is still available as an import or also as mp3s. I previously posted about Gaines excellent big band Blues album, Tuxedo Blues, and the Severn release, New Frontier LoverHere is Roy in a T-Bone Walker-ish mood.

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