Saturday, March 15, 2014

Tom Holland & the Shuffle Kings - No Fluff, Just the Stuff

Guitarist Tom Holland will be best known for his lengthy tenure playing behind James Cotton, adding his fretwork behind Mr. Superharp’s harmonica explorations as well as supporting whatever vocalist is fronting the group. Back in Chicago, he can be heard backing Harmonica Hinds and other real deal Chicago blues acts as well as his own group, The Shuffle Kings. The Shuffle Kings are Holland on guitar and vocals, Big D on harmonica, Mike Scharf on bass and Tino Cortes on drums.

Holland recently issued a new CD, No Fluff, Just the Stuff (E Natchel Records) that was crowd-funded on Kickstarter (and I was one of his many Kickstarter supporters). As given his band’s name, and the album title, this is a release of straight blues with no hard rock fluff or filler. On No Fluff, Just the Stuff, Holland & the Shuffle Kings are joined on a few tracks by the great John Primer on guitar and pianist Marty Sammons.

Tom Halland at 2008 New Olreans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Photo © Ron Weinstock
No filler aptly describes this release with a share of wonderfully played shuffles and slow blues. Holland is an able singer and a fine guitarist, whether playing straight single note runs or employing a slide. He contributed all the songs here often employing a clever use of words as on Waiting For the Other Shoe to Drop, and More Things Change.

Outstanding tracks include the Muddy Waters styled Hurry Up & Wait, with fine slide guitar; the peppy Shuffle King Boogie, with Primer and him each taking taut solos (and nice interplay between the two); and a nice long slow blues, Hardest Part of Loving You, with Sammons terrific here supporting Holland. The title track is a crisply played instrumental that ends this entertaining recording on an upbeat note.

As mentioned, I was kickstarter supporter of this recording. Tom Holland’s website is and it is available from cdbaby,

Here is a video of Tom Holland & the Shuffle Kings in performance.

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