The material includes songs associated with Albert King, Little Milton, Fontella Bass and Bobby McClure, Chuck Berry, W.C. Handy, Peetie Wheatstraw and Lonnie Johnson along with four Byrnes / Dawson originals with the performances ranging from pretty straight renditions of Albert King’s I Get Evil and the Bass/McClure You’ll Miss Me (When I’m Gone), to the traditional jazz inflections added to James ‘Stump’ Johnson’s The Duck Yas Yas Yas, St. Louis Blues, and Wheatstraw’s recording of Cake Alley. Dawson’s use of pedal steel adds an usual flavor to the cover of Chuck Berry’s Nadine, while Little Milton’s That Will Never Do is rendered in a somewhat austere stripped down setting.
Byrnes’ grainy vocals appeal with their sincerity and natural, thick molasses delivery helped by the understated backing from the rhythm section. He delivers the lyrics in an unforced matter, often with a bit of humor as on his duet with Hammond on The Duck Yas Yas Yas, with some nice clarinet from Jim Hoke and trumpet by Steve Herrman. He displays the most urgency on the duet with Rennison on You’ll Miss Me (When I’m Gone), while indicating a touch of Peetie Wheatstraw’s on Cake Alley where he employs the Devil’s Son-In-Law’s “oh well well” vocal embellishment. Tom Colclough plays the fine the clarinet on Handy’s famous St. Louis Blues, along with Dawson’s fine National slide guitar to support Byrnes of-the-beat vocal. The originals are solid tunes with The Journey Home being exceptional with recollections of the Mississippi, listening to the Dodgers and the Cardinals over the radio, and the Illinois Central trains with Dawson’s telling guitar responses to the latter.
An affectionate salute to his home town, Jim Byrnes St. Louis Times delights with his heartfelt, and fresh, renditions of some vintage blues and originals The varied settings add to the listening enjoyment of the amiable performances on this engaging CD.
I received my review copy from a publicist. Here Jim Byrnes in is recent performance doing St. Louis Blues.