Rob Stone review…September 5, 2014…

ROB STONE

GOTTA KEEP ROLLIN

VIZZTONE LABEL GROUP  VTMQ 10013

WAIT BABY–WONDERFUL TIME–LUCKY 13–ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN–SHE BELONGS TO ME–MOVE BABY MOVE–STROLLIN’ WITH SASQUATCH–WIRED AND TIRED–COLD WINTER DAY–IT’S EASY WHEN YOU KNOW HOW–NOT NO MO’

A new album from harmonica ace Rob Stone is always welcomed, as he stays so busy touring all over the world that he hardly can find the time to hit the studios.  But, Vizztone Records has just released “Gotta Keep Rollin,” and it is more of the high-octane combo blues that Rob has been layin’ down since his first album, “No Worries,” back in 1998.

Rob is a Boston native, but honed his craft in the ultra-competitive Chicago club scene, and even spent some time playing in Colorado biker bars before Sam Lay called in the early Nineties.  Sam considered Rob as “the best harp player I ever worked with”—heady stuff, indeed, from a man who drummed for Paul Butterfield!  Chris James and Patrick Rynn were in Sam’s band back then, too, and they contribute guitar and bass, respectively.  Willie Hayes is on drums, and several special guests make this a powerful set, for sure.

The party kicks off with a cool cover of Chicago pianist Johnny Jones’ “Wait Baby,” a swingin’ groove that sets the tone for everything else that follows.  Rob’s harp takes on a “country blues” tone on the jump-blues of Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Wonderful Time,” and this theme is revisited on “Move Baby Move,” with a cool sax break from legend Eddie Shaw.

Rob knows a bluesman’s life is a gamble, but his promise to “keep on rollin’ the dice” is found in the rockin’ blues of “Lucky 13,” featuring guitar from John Primer, and piano from David Maxwell.  A cool song about livin’ on a steady diet of caffeine is “Wired And Tired,” with Henry Gray on piano.  And, a lover who is given her walkin’ papers is told, “you’ll need me on some old Cold Winter Day,” a sweet slow blues again with John Primer on guitar.

We had two favorites, too, one cover and one original.  “She Belongs To Me” is sparsely-arranged, with brush-stroked drums and Chris’ leads set over a menacing, echo-effect vocal from Rob, telling anyone who’s listening that “if you fool with my woman, I’ll cut you, 1-2-3.”  And, the title cut is a cool band original that chronicles the travails and tribulations of a life on the road, as we all know “The Blues Keep Rollin’ On!”

Yep, those blues “Gotta Keep Rollin,” and we’ve gotta have guys such as Rob Stone to keep bringing ’em to us.  He’s got the whole package–a tremendous vocalist and harp man, with a keen ear for insightful, clever lyrics.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society

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