Clay Swafford review…April 7, 2013…

CLAY SWAFFORD

ROOSTER

LOST CAUSE RECORDS  LC 120

ROOSTER’S BOOGIE–29 WAYS–OLYMPIA STRUT–SOMETIMES I HAVE A HEARTACHE–MESSIN’ AROUND DAVENPORT–HOLE IN THE WALL–BIRMINGHAM AFTER MIDNIGHT–YOU BETTER WATCH YOURSELF–BIG JOE’S STOMP–ROCK THIS HOUSE–AMAZING GRACE

BONUS TRACKS–MEAN DISPOSITION–FINE LITTLE MAMA–TIN PAN ALLEY

Clay Swafford was born on October 6, 1983, and was immediately nicknamed “Rooster”  that very day, after his grandfather saw the shock of red hair on the newborn.  His family introduced him to the piano, and at fifteen, he heard B. B. and Bobby Bland and got hooked on the blues.  For his debut album, aptly-titled “Rooster,” Clay goes back to the days of house rent parties and Saturday night fish frys.  He lays down five originals and nine covers in a style all his own that draws from his mentors, including Jerry Lee Lewis, David Maxwell, and Pinetop.  He’s joined by big-voiced Diunna Greenleaf on five cuts, and Bob Margolin and Bob Corritore on three others.

This young man is an unstoppable force on the 88’s.  Recorded with no frills, on an old upright Weber, he can pitch a boogie with the best of ‘em, as evidenced in the leadoff “Rooster’s Boogie,” “Messin’ Around Davenport,” (a tribute to Ray Charles), and “Big Joe’s Stomp,” in honor of Cincinnati’s boogie-man, Big Joe Duskin.

Diunna lends her exquisite talents on several cuts, the best of which were her rockin’ take on “29 Ways to make it to my baby’s door,” and the slow-blues of Big Mama Thornton’s “Sometimes I Have A Heartache.”  The set closes with a sweet take of Clay going back to his gospel roots with “Amazing Grace.”

 

The bonus tracks bring together Clay and Bob Margolin as Bob’s wailing slide evokes memories of Muddy during the Centennial celebration of his birth with “Mean Disposition”‘ and switches gears to rock the house with “Fine Little Mama.”  Bob Corritore’s harp and Big Pete Pearson’s vocals carry “Tin Pan Alley,” as Clay lays down a solid rhythm pattern.

With a left hand that hits like thunder and a right like lightning, Clay  Swafford was paid perhaps the ultimate compliment by none other than Pinetop Perkins, who said, “I have ten fingers, but Clay plays like he has twenty!”  And, with a set such as “Rooster,” this young fireball has a bright future, indeed!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

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