Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Brandon Santini Live & Extended

Brandon Santini has been establishing himself as one of the new blues harmonica hotshots. With his band of Timo Arthur guitar, Nick Hearn on bass and Chad Wirl on drums, the Memphis-based Santini was recorded in July 1014 performing at Le Petit Imperial de Québec as part of Festival D’été Du Québec and his rousing performance can be heard on “Live & Extended” (VizzTone).

Santini’s formidable fat, wet harmonica sound is present throughout with his no-holds barred attack. At the same time, the performances are straight blues. He may be high energy but that does not mean he has rocked out and his sense of dynamics is terrific. He has chosen intriguing covers and solid idiomatic originals. His vocals are solid and the band provides solid support whether taking us  down in the alley or rocking a nice shuffle.

From the opening moment of his hot take of James Cotton’s "One More Mile” to the closing encore number “Come On Everybody,” Brandon Santini lays down  driving harmonica blues and forceful singing. “This Time Another Year,” with its chugging rhythm and some of guitarist’s Arthur best  playing is a terrific track as he sings about maybe being in Chicago or down south in Tennessee. Then he takes down the tempo on “Elevate Me Mama” which again sports some strong harp. After the nice groove of an original “Evil Woman” we hear a fresh, rockabilly tinged reworking of Walter Horton’s “Have a Good Time.”

Other choice covers include the funky groove to recast Slim Harpo’s "Got Love If You Want It,” and Frank Frost’s “My Back Scratcher,” with its mix of a lazy groove and Santini’s extroverted vocal and harp. Then there is his hot shuffle “No Matter What I Do,” and the breakneck tempo of “I Wanna Boogie With You.” Listening to this terrific recording one gets a sense of just how exciting he is live. “Live & Extended” certainly whets this listener’s appetite to see him live.

I received my review copy from VizzTone. Here is Brandon Santini performing "Evil Woman" at another Festival. 

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