Thursday, May 17, 2012

Cookie McGee's Right Place

With all the attention being given some of the emerging female singer-guitarists, I would be hard-pressed to find a release as consistently satisfying both vocally and instrumentally as the debut album by Dallas, Texas’ Cookie McGee. Once again it is John Stedman and his JSP label who is responsible for releasing her Right Place.

McGee grew up as neighbors to the Freddie King family, and played in various bands with Freddie‘s kids, including Freddie Jr. after King passed away. She played in and around Dallas for several years. spent 1986 in New Orleans playing with Ernie K-Doe and Jean Knight until tiring of the musical rat race and laying down her guitar for several years. It was Tutu Jones that asked her to pick up her guitar for the 1997 Freddie King birthday tribute which resulted in Right Place which was produced by Andrew “Jr. Boy” Jones.

While Freddie King may have been an obvious influence, this writer hears more of B.B. King‘s influence than Freddie. The tight backing group here also evokes the sound of B.B.‘s recordings from the late sixties and early seventies, not simply because of McGee‘s solid, incisive guitar, but the splendid backing she receives Ron Mason‘s keyboards being particularly noteworthy as he fills out the bottom as well as contributes some telling solos. She matches her fretwork with a natural, appealing vocal style that renders her tales of relationships gone bad quite believable.

She contributes four originals including the opening One Way Ticket, which she got for her mistreating man and the crisp instrumental, Groovin‘ in Garland. The other songs are covers songs by other JSP artists including a very soulful reading of Percy Strother‘s Your So Called Friends, where she entreats her man not to let his friends break them apart; producer Jones’ amusing You‘re a Dog, with drummer Tommy Hill providing an amusing second voice to respond to the lyrics, and Jimmy Morella‘s Blueswoman for Life, a rocking shuffle that Roy Gaines also recorded on his recent JSP release. The album closes with a topical blues, Bottom‘s Falling Out, a commentary about the hard times for some now that the politicians in D.C. have basically eliminated the safety net.

The superior material along with the strong performance turned in by Ms. McGee make Right Place a most auspicious debut. Like her fellow Dallas blues players, Jr. Boy Jones and Tutu Jones, one suspects that she will be the latest JSP discovery‘ to capture the attention of one of the major American labels. She‘s got the talent and the voice that deserves to be heard.

The above review appeared in the DC Blues Calendar, either in December 1998 or early 1999. Unfortunately this release did not lead to her capturing the attention of other labels. It would be over a decade before she would have another release, One Way Ticket, on the Austrian Wolf label. Both CDs are available as well as available as downloads. I do not recall if I received a review copy or purchased this. Here is Cookie performing.

1 comment:

Wayno & his better half Sherry said...

Good pick Ron and well described in your review. Ms.McGee plays left handed which always appeals to this lefty.