Steve Howell review…October 21, 2013…

STEVE HOWELL AND THE MIGHTY MEN

YES I BELIEVE I WILL

OUT OF THE PAST MUSIC

I HAD A NOTION–WALK ON BOY–KEEP YOUR LAMPS TRIMMED AND BURNING–COUNTRY BLUES (AKA HUSTLING GAMBLERS)–FUTURE BLUES–WASTED MIND–MR. BLUE–DEVIL’S SIDE–I KNOW YOU RIDER–RAKE AND RAMBLING BLADE

Steve Howell received the prestigious Academy Of Texas Music Historical Significance Award in 2012, and has four well-received albums already to his credit.  A classic storyteller and extraordinary fingerpicker, he specializes in music from the era where traveling troubadours hoboed on freight trains and spread blues and folk music all across the land.  For his fifth album, “Yes, I Believe I Will,” Steve Howell and the Mighty Men—Chris Michaels on second guitar and bass, Dave Huffpauir on drums, and Jason Weinheimer on keys–take the listener on a predominantly-acoustic, ten-cut trip that covers several traditional folk/blues songs and some contemporary music done in Steve’s inimitable “lonesome” style.

Check out Steve’s take on Mel Tillis’ 1960 “Walk On Boy,” presented herein as a larger-than-life folk tale of John Henry Brown’s trials and tribulations as a levee camp worker.  Steve recounts the tales of gamblers, corn whisky, and pretty women learned from a Dock Boggs recording, “Country Blues.”  “Future Blues” ihas a mid-tempo shuffle beat and was written by Willie Brown, a contemporary of Robert Johnson mentioned by name in the lyrics of “Crossroads.”  Steve’s sparse arrangement and hushed vocals makes “Mr. Blue” even more of a tear-jerker than The Fleetwoods’ Number One version from 1959.  It also features a fine electric solo from Chris Michaels.  Steve closes the set with another traditional Irish folk tale of rascals, rogues, and robbers, “Rake And Rambling Blade,” with Chris’ muted banjo adding to the ambience.

We had two favorites, too.  Steve delivers the Biblically-inspired message of “KeepYour Lamps Trimmed and Burning” with serious conviction, realizing that this song was used in slave times as a signal to those escaping to the North to freedom via the Underground Railroad.  And, “Wasted Mind” takes a long, hard look at the generation(s) of youthful slackers who, altho they are the future of this country, are too busy “trying to sound like Eminem,” and “on a first-name basis down at the police station.”

Steve Howell can take any song and make it uniquely his own.  His deft fingerpicking and marvelous vocal style makes him an ideal modern-day troubadour, and “Yes, I Believe I Will” is another long, cool drink from his bottomless wellspring of great blues!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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