The Duke Robillard Band review…September 21, 2014

THE DUKE ROBLLARD BAND

CALLING ALL BLUES!

STONY PLAIN RECORDS  SPCD  1374

DOWN IN MEXICO–I’M GONNA QUIT MY BABY–SVENGALI–BLUES BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY–EMPHASIS ON MEMPHIS–CONFUSION BLUES–MOTOR TROUBLE–NASTY GUITAR–TEMPTATION–SHE’S SO FINE

For his latest album, Duke Robillard wanted to touch on the many facets of American music that is based on the blues.  And, as you listen to the original music that comprises “Calling All Blues,” you will swear that you’ve heard them somewhere before, as Duke is such a master of blending his style of music within various genres’.

There are two covers, and they are great ones, too.  The set closes on a swinging note with Duke’s read of a Carter Brothers chestnut,  “She’s So Fine, ” which serves as an excellent workout for the horn section.  The other cover is one of our favorites, and a real highlight of the album. “Emphasis On Memphis, ” written by Gary Nicholson and Ron Sexsmith, has a Stax/Hi vibe with the horn section, and name-checks everyone from Presley to Pickett that had a hand in the Bluff City’s contribution to “sweet southern soul.”  Another cool thing about this song is that everybody in the band is on the background chorus of this one,  a first for the Duke Robillard Band.

A couple more of the band members get a shot at lead vocals, too.  Sunny Crownover has “Blues Beyond The Call Of Duty, bad luck and trouble I never knew,” singing this minor-key slow blues over Duke’s call-and-response licks.  And, keyboard man Bruce Bears gets the vocal nod on the stop-time, jazzy Mose Allison-ish “Confusion Blues.”  Duke rides a one-chord boogie with echo-effect vocals on “Motor Trouble,” and shows us how to liven up a crowd by firing off a few licks of “Nasty Guitar” to get everyone’s attention.  His closing solo here reminds us of vintage Duke from the days when Roomful Of Blues was young.

We had two other favorites, too.  “I’m Gonna Quit My Baby” was cut when Duke was recovering from a broken hand.  Thus, his slide solo is done with the two middle fingers taped together!  “Svengali” is perhaps the set’s quirkiest tune.  Duke’s multiple guitar attack captures the feel of “Vicksburg Blues,” and Mark  Teixeira’s percussion is unusual as well– to get a “pots and pans” effect, the fellows put two full bottles of wine to good use on this one!

Duke Robillard continues to be one of the true links to the great artists and styles of the past who can give those sounds a fresh, contemporary feel.  “Calling All Blues” has some of his most insightful lyrics and spirited playing, and is a must for all blues fans.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, the Nashville Blues Society.

 

 

 

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