Generation Blues Experience review…August 28, 2014…





Ray Goren is a child prodigy who began on jazz piano, but migrated to blues guitar around the ripe old age of eight.  At twelve, a family friend arranged for Ray to meet some of South Central L. A.’s best bluesmen.  Ray ventured down to Bell’s Blues Workshop, a converted garage now serving as a juke joint.  The young man struck up an instant friendship with eighty-year old Jamie “Bluesboy” Powell, a guitarist, and harp man Sammy Lee, himself past seventy.  The ‘generation gap” was closed thru their love of the blues, as Ray’s unbelieveable guitar and vocal skills meshed perfectly with the wisdom and experience of Jamie and Sammy.  They quickly released a couple of albums, but wanted a set of original material.  Thus, The Generation Blues Experience has just released “Private Angel,” with everyone contributing on the original cuts.  Lester Lands adds bass, Tadg Galleran is on keys, and Albert Trepagnier, Jr., is on drums, along with the aforementioned trio of frontmen.

Ray Goren has to be heard to be appreciated, and, to be believed.  His prowess is on display throughout the set, but nowhere is it more prominent and powerful than on the eight-minute set-closing live version of “Ain’t No Sunshine,” which is literallyone dazzling solo after another, each reaching a more rousing height of fire and fury.

The whole set plays out for exactly what it is–a group of bluesmen having a helluva good time and putting it all down on tape.  It just happens that one of ’em is now all of fourteen years old, and possesses jaw-dropping abilities.  Check out Sammy’s soulfully-struttin’ vocal on the leadoff “Little Mama,”  and Lester Lands’ clarion call for us all to get along and “Put Love On Your Guest List and take hate off your mind!”  Ray’s guitar lines herein lean toward the jazzy side, in tandem with Tadgs’s piano.

We had several favorites, too.  Ray and the fellows have opened for B. B. King, and the title cut is a deep, minor-key blues where Ray’s vocals belie his youth as he sings of a “Private Angel,” where “love is all I see.”  His vocals and phrasings reminded us of Fenton Robinson.  Sammy’s harp-filled original, the swingin’ “Katrina” becomes an ode to the strength of the people affected by that storm.  And, Ray wrote a song specifically for Jamie, and it’s done up Muddy style with a stop-time pattern entitled “Crazy,” with Ray taking off into more uncharted regions on his solo.

The exuberance of youth combined with the savvy and wisdom of the long-in-the-tooth veterans is what pulls you into the Generation Blues Experience.  And, the past, present, and future of the blues can be found throughout the grooves of “Private Angel!”   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.


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