Saturday, August 11, 2012

Barrelhouse Chuck Got His Eyes On You

I have been a fan of Barrelhouse Chuck Goering ever since he came to Washington DC area to do some recording and do a show at the Childe Harold with the late Ben Andrews and Mark Wenner. He is one of the most accomplished traditionally oriented blues pianists having been mentored by Little Brother Montgomery and Sunnyland Slim, amongst others.

While apparently from 2006, I just became aware of The Sirens release by Chuck, Got My Eyes On You. It has a terrific band backing him of Kim Wilson on harmonica; Joel Foy and Eddie Taylor, Jr, on guitars; Calvin 'Fuzz' Jones on bass; and Willie 'Big Eyes; Smith on drums. Chuck on piano and Farfisa organ handles a variety of songs, most of which are associated with a number of blues legends that influenced and/or mentored him including Floyd Jones, Detroit Junior, Little Brother Montgomery, Memphis Slim, Smokey Smothers, Big Moose Walker, Sunnyland Slim and Muddy Waters.

With Kim Wilson's harp channelling Snooky Pryor, the album opens with a solid instrumental Floyd's Blues, followed by Chuck's rendition of Detroit Jr.'s Call My Job, introduced by Ella Evans, Junior's companion, with a nice groove and some solid singing as he notes he had "too much weekend." Chuck plays piano and Farfisa and piano on the title selection (from Smokey Smothers which evokes Help Me), with strong singing and a tight ensemble behind him. This should not be surprising sing Jones and Smith were with Muddy Waters and then the Legendary Blues Band for so many years.

The instrumental Cleo's Mood is a feature for Wilson on which Chuck sits out and then followed by a first-rate take on Sunnyland Slim's It's You Baby, Chuck captures the flavor of Sunnyland's piano style here. After a nice rendition of Floyd Jones' "School Days (with convincing vocal, tough sounding piano and great Wilson harp), there is an instrumental rendition of The Bright Sounds of Big Moose, a cross between John Lee Hooker's "Dimples," and "Help Me," with Chuck on organ and nice guitar on a Big Moose John Walker number. On Big Town Playboy, Eddie Taylor, Jr., evokes his legendary father (who recorded this for Vee-Jay) on an excellent performance. Red River Rumba is a nice medium tempoed instrumental, followed by Chuck ably singing Little Brother Montgomery's Mama You Don't Mean Me No Good. On this, pianist Eiko Izumi-Gallwas recreates Little Brother's piano style.

The closing original by Chuck, Iza Mae with guitarist Foy and mandolinist-fiddler Gregg Rodriguez, is a brief, acoustic, ragtime-tinged instrumental. While its approach contrasts to the classic Chicago blues of most of this marvelous recording, it is similarly a performance that is wonderfully paced and rendered. If like me, you missed this when it first came out, it is not too late to enjoy this marvelous album.

I purchased this CD from although it is available from other sources. Here is a video of Barrelhouse Chuck at Phoenix's Rhythm Room.

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