BLUES AND TROUBLE
BED OF NAILS–EVERY DAY’S THE SAME–REPUTATION–EMPIRE OF DIRT–BLUES AND TROUBLE–THE JUNGLE–YOU’RE STILL MY BABY–IRONCLAD ALIBI–TWO BY TWO–EASY TO BE THE DEVIL–WHOLE LOTTA SHAKIN’ GOIN’ ON–MR. WILLIAMS–HALF THE MONEY
Kansas City is known as the birthplace of swing, and during the late-Nineties’ resurgence of this Big Band-sounding, highly-danceable music, Grand Marquis was formed. Fifteen years down the road, they are still packin’ ’em in and knockin’ ’em dead, and their fifth album, “Blues And Trouble,” continues in their successful vein of combining that KC swing with a hefty shot of today’s contemporary blues. And, this fivesome lays down some high-octane grooves on this one. Bryan Redmond possesses that sophisticated, ultra-hip, “crooner’s” voice that lends itself so well to this material. He also adds sax, and is backed by Ryan Wurtz on guitar, Chad Boydston on trumpet, Ben Ruth on doghouse bass, and Lisa McKenzie on percussion.
The set starts with Bryan bemoaning a failed relationship, leaving him to “sleep on a “Bed Of Nails,” that he himself built, “one nail at a time,” corresponding to each one of his transgressions. Ryan’s slide cuts like a knife during the instrumental bridge, too. Another ‘my baby’s gone” cut is “Every Day’s The Same,” and it’s reminiscent of those classic Fats Domino/Dave Bartholomew Imperial sides. Muted trumpet, brush-stroked drums, and Ben’s brooding bottom wash over Bryan’s subtly-nuanced vocal on the title cut, while “Mr. Williams” is an honest-to-goodness New Orleans funeral march done in honor of noted Beale Street trumpeter Rudy Williams, “ridin’ off like Ezekiel in a chariot!” Dancers will fill the floor for the swingin’ jump of “Two By Two” and the set-closing homage to doing what you love and “earning Half The Money for havin’ twice the fun!”
Our favorite was the lone cover. Bryan and the band pull out all the stops on “Whole Lotra Shakin’ Goin’ On,” with some mighty fine rockabilly licks courtesy of Ryan.
They’ve been in the IBC finals, and they’ve recorded at Sun Records. Bryan Redmond and the rest of Grand Marquis have successfully blended the jazz of Kansas City swing with the lowdown blues of the Delta, and “Blues And Trouble” makes for their best set yet!! Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow.