GROOVING AT THE CROSSE ROADS
RUF RECORDS 1217
MY MAN CALLED ME–WHY DOES A WOMAN NEED A BASS GUITAR–ROCKIN’ CHAIR–CLARKSDALE SHUFFLE–HURRYIN’ UP TO RELAX–WALKIN’ IN THEIR SHOES–DAMN YOUR EYES–STEPPIN’ UP STRONG–BAD BOY KISS–CALL ON ME–YOU DON’T MOVE ME NO MORE
Vocalist/bassist Heather Crosse originally hails from Louisiana, but she adopted Clarksdale, MS as her musical hometown. She was a part of the Ruf Records 2015 “Girls With Guitars” caravan tour, but the blues-rock slant of that tour wasn’t the direction she wanted to go. Heather listened to a lot of Motown and Etta James and Big Mama Thornton growing up, thus preferring her blues with a shot of soul. That’s the formula for her latest Ruf release, “Grooving At The Crosse Roads,” featuring five originals and a good mix of covers that pay tribute to her heroes.
This set was produced by the iconic Jim Gaines, and Heather used her regular band, known as Heavy Suga And The SweeTones, to get a good feel for the songs. We have Lee Williams on drums, Mark Yacavone on keys, and Dan Smith on guitars.
She leads off with a Don Robey-penned shuffle, “My Man Called Me This Morning,” then goes into her autobiography with “Why Does A Woman Need A Bass Guitar?” The answers, at least for Heather, are simple–“It don’t talk back, it don’t give me no flak, and “is still here after all the men are gone!” She gives a shout-out to classic soul with a sweet take on Gwen McCrae’s “Rockin Chair,” and with one of her originals, “Hurryin Up To Relax,” with excellent organ from Mark.
She tackles love and relationships and “no longer bein’ a fool for you” with Etta’s “Damn Your Eyes,” then falls hard for that “Bad Boy Kiss, with a little tenderness” on this funky groove. The power of music to heal us when we are down is spelled out in “Steppin’ Up Strong,” and she closes the set with a rhumba romp, the ultimate kiss-off song, “Daddy, You Don’t Move Me No More!”
We had two favorites, too, perhaps the most “straight blues” cuts herein. Dan Smith’s slide wails the blues as Heather sings of “my mentors, now long gone,” those who “taught my soul to sing,” and she’s “Walkin’ In Their Shoes.” And, all the music that is part of her adopted hometown is in the rockin’ “Clarksdale Shuffle.”
“Grooving At The Crosse Roads” is the culmination of Heather Crosse’s blues journey that has taken her from the deep South of Louisiana to, literally, Ground Zero of the blues. This one is a blast from start to finish! Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.