DELTA MOURN–GREENVILLE MISSISSIPPI BLUES–LIGHTS ARE ON, BUT NOBODY’S HOME–SOMEWHERE SOUTH OF MEMPHIS–BLACK HANNAH–COTTON PICKIN–DON’T LEAVE ME BABY–IT HURTS ME TOO–HANDCUFFED TO THE BLUES–SMOKIN’ GUN–SOULSHAKE–BROKEN CHAINS
Kern Pratt is living out his dream as a bluesman. Playing guitar since the age of eight, at sixteen he was good enough to be asked by Joe Frank Carollo of Hamilton, Joe Frank, and Reynolds fame, to come to Vegas to play with him. He’s never looked back, altho he did fulfill a promise to his dad to complete his GED.
As a young man growing up in the Delta, Kern was exposed to all kinds of blues and blues players, from the raw power of T-Model Ford to the funk of Bobby Rush, and everything in between. He’s put all his influences together to create his own unique sound with the release of “Broken Chains,” a clever mix of covers and originals that show his incredible guitar chops and that soulful, well-seasoned vocal delivery that sounds as if it were aged and mellowed in a Jack Daniels barrel.
There’s something for everyone on this set, so we are going to break from our usual tradition and discuss each track individually. Here we go…..
The set opens and closes with the Resonator slide work of Wes Lee on two instrumentals, “Delta Mourn,” and the title cut. Kern kicks off his portion with a blistering, Elmore James-styled boogie, “Greenville Mississippi Blues,” documenting a mythical trip “down the Blues Highway” from Greenville down to Indianola and Yazoo City and everywhere in between. Eden Brent is on that firecracker piano, too!
Kern pours us an icy-cool Collins Mix on the hilarious “Lights Are On, But Nobody’s Home,” then gets serious with the minor-key tale of the sad lengths some will go to just for “thirteen silver dollars,’ “Somewhere South Of Memphis.” The story of T-Model’s guitar is the theme of “Black Hannah,” while “Cotton Pickin” is another cool Albert Collins-styled instrumental set over an awesome horn arrangement. “Don’t Leave Me Baby” follows a second-line groove with Kenny Neal on second guitar, and Kern and harpman Luc Borms give a sweet, acoustic, country-blues read of “It Hurts Me Too.” “Handcuffed To The Blues” has that down-home Bobby Rush groove, and Denise Owen is the featured vocalist on a classic, southern-soul “cheatin’ song,” catchin’ her lover red-handed with that “Smokin’ Gun.”
By far our favorite cut was a duet with Kern and Denise on a song cut right here in Music City back in our younger days. They capture that good-time vibe of Peggy Scott and Jo Jo Benson, “dancin’ with your baby really turns the Soulshake on!”
We can’t say enough good things about Kern Pratt and “Broken Chains.” He’s had his ups and downs just like we all have, but the music has brought him through it all. This is sho’ nuff one helluva set! Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.