Robert ‘Top’Thomas review…Feb 16 2013…

ROBERT  ‘TOP’ THOMAS

THE TOWN CRIER

WILDROOTS RECORDS LLC  CD 2013

MISSISSIPPI QUICKIE–BLUES GRASS–THE SAME THING COULD HAPPEN TO YOU–LAZY LITTLE DAISY–KING SNAKE CRAWL–BAD SEED–WHAT’S THE MATTER MA–SUGAR SHOP–YEEHAW JUNCTION–I’M A FREIGHT TRAIN–DADDY’S GONE–THE TOWN CRIER–IT AIN’T EASY

 

During the mid-Nineties down here deep in the heart of Dixie, the King Snake label was bringing the best in Southern-fried blues, from artists such as Ace Moreland, the great sax player, Noble “Thin Man” Watts, and Smokehouse.  The guitarist behind Smokehouse is still rockin’ those blues, and Robert ‘Top’ Thomas has just released “The Town Crier,” on the WildRoots label.  Drawing from his influences such as Lazy Lester, Jimmy Reed, and all the greats that recorded for King Snake back in the day, the New Smyrna Beach native brings together twelve band originals and one scintillating cover that lets everyone know that the blues are still goin’ strong deep down in Florida.

 

Produced and arranged by Stephen Dees, who also adds bass and backing vocals, Top is joined by Billy Dean on drums, and Stephen Kampa on harp, the winner of the 2012 Florida Harmonica Championships.  Top and the fellows visit several genres’ on this set, and do so very well.  Check out the leadoff slab of chugging roadhouse boogie, finding the Top lookin’ for a “Mississippi Quickie!!”  They sound as if they are on our front porch havin’ a cold one on the acoustic gems, “What’s The Matter Ma,” and a clever ode to taking your mind off your troubles by lighting up a shot of “Blues Grass!”  Victor Wainwright gets in some great piano work on the N’Awlins-flavored trip down to the “Sugar Shop,” while Top and guest Damon Fowler on dobro bring a touch of the Delta to everything on “I’m A Freight Train.”  There’s even a bit of “Sunday morning” to close the set, as everyone joins in on “It Ain’t Easy, gettin’ thru Heaven’s door.”

 

We had three favorites, too.  On the hilarious title cut, a cool horn section adds spice to Top’s tale of a woman who done him wrong, and turned him into “The Town Crier.”  The slow burn of “King Snake Crawl” name-checks virtually everyone from that storied roster, and they all “had their mojo workin” back in the day.  And, we’ve always been partial to Lazy Lester, and Top’s vocal on “The Same Thing Could Happen To You” sounds so much like Lester that it’s downright spooky!  Beth McKee spices it up with some cool squeeze box, too.

 

Robert ‘Top’ Thomas has served notice that the blues is alive and well in the deep South, and “The Town Crier” will sho’ nuff tell you all about it!  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow.

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Marcia on February 24, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Saw Robert “Top” Thomas at Peanuts in New Smyrna Beach, FL last night. He and his band really rocked the house. Although Billy Dean wasn’t there, Stephan Dees and Stephan Kampa were amazing as was whoever was playing the drums. We used to hear Robert when he played with Smokehouse and have missed his great guitar playing and vocals. So glad he’s back!

    Reply

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