Thursday, August 18, 2016

Toby Walker's Music Get's Much Mileage

Long Island's Toby Walker is among the most gifted acoustic blues and roots performers around today who has just released his latest album "Mileage." The title comes from the miles of traveling Walker has taken over the decades of his career illustrated from the stickers on his guitar case pictured on the cover. There is a nice mix of finger picking blues, some Doc Watson styled flat-picking and a Muddy Waters' cover ("She Moves Me") where his steel slide playing evoked the Black Ace.

Things get started with a delightful original co-written with Tom Griffith, "Seven-Dy Wonder," a humorous reworking of having a woman every day of the week theme with superb Piedmont styled guitar followed by a slightly rebranding of a classic Blind Lemon Jefferson recording, "See My Grave Is Swept Clean." "Jimmy Brown The Newsboy," is one of several numbers that have him in an old-timey/bluegrass/Irish folk mode reminiscent of Doc Watson, which similar wonderful picking on "Daly's Reel/Stoney Lonesome" and "Temperance Reel." Mookie Wilson's "My Baby Owns A Whiskey Store" is a delightful blues romp about having a new baby who takes care of Toby's needs since "he don't have to buy no more," set against a brisk, propulsive accompaniment.

Toby says he "can hardly get through without cracking up," when he performs Tim Wallace's "You Don't Really Care," and listening to this one wonders how many takes it took to record this delightful performance. It is followed by a classic honky-tonk styled country number, "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke." A brisk "Shortnin' Bread" is followed by a solo, acoustic rendition of Tiny Powell's recording' "My Time After A While." The original 45 was covered for Chess by Buddy Guy who copied Johnny Heartsman's guitar playing on Powell's original. Walker sounds vocally a bit like John Hammond here.

Other pleasures include another Walker-Griffith collaboration, "Shakin' Her Bacon," with amusing, slightly naughty lyrics with his strutting accompaniment, a lively interpretation of Fats Waller's "Lulu's Back In Town, the melancholy ballad "Delia," and the hokum fun of "You're Gonna Look Like A Monkey When You Get Old," where Walker's slide playing sounds like he is in a Western Swing group. It is an exhilarating close to an album of diverse and varied material that is superbly performed. This marvelous recording can be purchased from Toby directly,, as well as better retailers.

I received my copy directly from Toby. This review was written for Jazz & Blues Report which I do not believe has run it it and I apologize for not posting this review earlier. Here is Toby in live performance.


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