Chris James and Patrick Rynn review…October 6, 2013…

CHRIS JAMES AND PATRICK RYNN

BARRELHOUSE STOMP

EARWIG RECORDS  4968

GOODBYE LATER FOR YOU–JUST ANOTHER KICK IN THE TEETH–I FEEL SO GOOD–MESSIN WITH WHITE LIGHTNIN–BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE–A FACT IS A FACT–IT ALWAYS CAN BE WORSE–I’M GONNA STOP FOOLING MYSELF–VICKSBURG BLUES–BOBBY’S ROCK–TAKE IT EASY (A TRIBUTE TO PINETOP PERKINS)–LAST CALL WOOGIE

 

The first time we met Chris James and Patrick Rynn was in the summer of 1994, backing the ole Shuffle Master himself, Sam Lay, at the now-defunct (and sorely missed) south Nashville venue, The Boardwalk Cafe.   (The CD “Feelin’ Good” documented this performance, and, yes, we were in the audience.)   They have come a long way since those days, having two previous albums for the Earwig lable, with 2008’s “Stop And Think About It” nominated for a Blues Award for Best New Artist Debut.

Their third album for Earwig is entitled “Barrelhouse Stomp,” and it continues their deep affinity for genuine Chicago-styled combo blues.  This set, however, is sho’ nuff a great big blues party with a slew of special guests that all perfectly complement Chris’ colorful singing and playing, and Patrick’s stone-cold backbeat.

The set starts with a swingin’ original tune that finds Chris throwin’ in the towel on a soured affair and bidding her “Goodbye Later For You.”  Rob Stone guests on harp, and David Maxwell rocks the 88’s.  Legendary sax man Eddie Shaw joins Howlin’ Wolf’s guitarist, Jody Williams, on another original cut that deals with disappointments in everyday life, “Just Another Kick In The Teeth.”  Patrick is also called upon here for a rare, but exquisitely cool, bass solo.  And, Chris breaks out his harp on the brooding story of no matter how hard times might seem, “It Always Could Be Worse.”  Jody again adds guitar on the Diddley-esque instrumental, “Messin’ With White Lightnin,” and Henry Gray is the piano man in another slide-infused instrumental reminiscent of the fellows’ days with Sam Lay, “Bobby’s Rock.”  The set closes with the rhumba-fied rock of closing time, “Last Call Woogie.”

We had three favorites, too.  “Vicksburg Blues” follows a more traditional, Delta-inspired rhythm pattern, but the guests on it are amazing.  Rob Stone is on harp, Eddie is on sax, Max is on piano, and Jody re-creates his riff from the Wolf’s “Forty-Four” to round this one out.  David and Chris rock the joint on the rapid-fire assault of “Take It Easy (A Tribute To Pinetop Perkins),” and Chris reminds us all how short life is, urging us to “live right now, Before It’s Too Late.”   This one has two notable features–an extended solo from pianist Aaron Moore, and, since the cut was recorded in August of 2009,  some of tha last works of Willie “Big Eyes” Smith on drums.

Chris James and Patrick Rynn try to write original songs based on their own personal experiences and from things they see in today’s society.  With over twenty years in the business, they are experts in conveying their thoughts in a blues format that listeners can readily  relate to.  And, they never forget the masters from whom they learned, which is what makes “Barrelhouse Stomp” such a fine listen!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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