Sunday, July 29, 2012

Craig Horton Is In The Spirit

Craig Horton is an unfamiliar name but In My Spirit on Big Daddy Records should change this. Originally part of the Chicago blues and rhythm scene (he was in Little Walter’s band for a spell and toured with the Dells), he relocated to the West Coast making a considerable contribution to the San Francisco Bay Area Blues scene. In My Spirit is his first album although he apparently recorded in the past including with the Mississippi Delta Blues band when it was fronted by Sammy Myers. With a little help from friends that include Rusty Zinn, Horton is heard on a collection of originals that evoke B.B. King, T-Bone Walker and other urban blues masters.

The opening Chest Pain Blues suggests the Butterfield Blues Band’s recording of Walking Blues crossed with B.B. King’s Why I Sing the Blues with its funky groove. 3 Days and 3 Nights opens with a piano part that sounds like the opening of T-Bone Shuffle, with Horton’s playing being in the T-Bone Walker vein. Elsewhere his playing is more akin to B.B. King. Horton is a very engaging singer whose suggests B.B. King and Bobby Bland. Although there are a few loose spots in the generally solid backing, it does not detract from the flavor of this disc. The only downside is that the closing track, Midnight Shuffle, is used as a soundtrack for spoken recollections by Horton which takes attention from his playing on this selection. A couple other tracks are effectively introduced by short spoken recollections.

There is a nice mix of material here and Horton’s spirited performances makes one wonder why it took so long to get him into the studio.

This review appeared in the December 2001-January 2002 DC Blues Calendar and I likely received a review copy from the label although I may have purchased it. Horton had a subsequent release in 2004 on Big Daddy Records, Touch of a Bluesman. One wonders whether he will make it back in the studio. He apparently is still performing around the San Francisco area.

Here is Craig Horton performing in Holland.

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