Formed by Bassist James Goode with Anson Funderburgh on guitar for a previous self-issued recording that benefited the Blues Foundation’s HART Fund, the Ruff Kutt Blues Band returns with a second album That’s When The Blues Begins on VizzTone. On this collection of new recordings the band is fronted by vocalist Finis Tasby (on what may be his final recordings given the severe stroke he recently suffered) and Zac Harman who also plays guitar. Others on this session include Wes Starr on drums, Ron Jones on saxophone, and keyboardist/engineer Gentleman John Street on keyboards.
From the opening song, Deep Elam Blues where Finis sings “I live on Elm Street, I got the deep Elam blues, I play my guitar on Elm Street, I got the deep Elam blues … I see women come and go, I wish I could make one of them mine …” to the closing When a Bluesman Goes to Heaven, where Harman sings about Pinetop jamming with Sammy Myers, Little Milton and others, this a full dose of nothing but the blues. Goode writes some solid no frills blues songs, Anson is riveting on guitar and Tasby and Harman sound great delivering the lyrics.
|Zac Harmon, James Goode, Finis Tasby, Anson Funderburgh (courtesy VizzTone)|
Don’t It Make You Cry is a nice blues about Tasby’s woman leaving him that evokes the Big Jay McNeely-Little Sonny Warner classic, There Is Something on Your Mind, with Ron Jones standing out on sax here. Harman is showcased on the easy rocking shuffle Oh Woman, as well as Blues Ain’t a Color, (“The blues ain’t a color, its the way you feel”). Harman’s soulful singing will be no surprise to those familiar with his recordings and live performances. Jones has another strong sax solo on Oh Woman.
It also helps that the band gives first-rate backing through the varied moods and grooves from the slow drag of Deep Elam Blues, and the funky underpinning of Blues in My Blood (another song displaying Goode’s way with words), as well as on “Oh Woman.” They never rush things and their crisp, yet understated playing enhances the singing. It is welcome, when so many records marketed as ‘blues’ sound like album-rock, to hear first-rate blues played as on That’s When The Blues Begins.