Jimmy Rogers With Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters
In Spring 1978, this reviewer went to see J.B. Hutto at a New York club where he was accompanied by a Boston area band, Sugar Ray and the Bluetones which featured an excellent guitarist, Ronnie Earl Horvath. They did a splendid job of backing Hutto’s Chicago slide guitar blues, and Horvath even then showed his considerable guitar prowess. I bought an EP by the band which included a Horvath homage to Earl Hooker and several other blues done handsomely by Sugar Ray Norcia, Horvath and the band.
Over a decade later, Ronnie Earl, and Sugar Ray are caught live in Europe backing yet another Chicago blues legend, Jimmy Rogers, at a German concert. Joined by stellar pianist Dave Maxwell and a first rate rhythm section, Earl opens with hot tributes to Gatemouth Brown and Earl Hooker before letting Sugar Ray handle the vocal on The Same Old Blues. From then on, Jimmy Rogers, sounding remarkably youthful, reprises a number of his more celebrated songs including Rock This House, Gold Tailed Bird, Walking By Myself, and Left Me With a Broken Heart, with plenty of solo space for Earl, Sugar Ray and Maxwell, along with some nicely done breaks by Rogers himself.
There can be little fault with the playing, but compared with Rogers’ Chess singles, the focus of the songs becomes slightly diffused with the jamming. This is a matter of observation and taste, because this is what one will hear live if one sees Rogers with his own band. This might even have an edge over the fine Antone’s album by Rogers on which Kim Wilson’s harp dominates at certain places, and certainly an indication of how vital Rogers can still be.
I likely received my review copy from a publicist. This review originally appeared in the Septeember 1994 Jazz and Blues Report (Issue 194). Here is Jimmy Rogers performing in 1994.