Matthew Skoller review…August 22, 2016…

MATTHEW SKOLLER

BLUES IMIGRANT

TONGUE ‘N’ GROOVE RECORDS   TNG 005

BIG BOX STORE BLUES–THE DEVIL AIN’T GOT NO MUSIC–BLUES IMMIGRANT–ONLY IN THE BLUES–TEAR COLLECTOR–STORY OF GREED–747–ORGAN MOUTH–MY GET IT DONE WOMAN–GET DOWN TO THE NITTY GRITTY–BLUE LIGHTS

Harp-blaster, singer, composer, and producer extraordinaire Matthew Skoller was born in New York, but he relocated to his “adopted” hometown of Chicago in 1987.  Over that nearly-30-year period, he has played with all the Windy City legends and blown harp on three Grammy-nominated sets over the last five years.  And, he’s found the time to record four CD’s of his own.  His fifth is slated for release on September 23, 2016,  and it is entitled “Blues Immigrant.”  It is a fine platter of Chicago-styled blues, produced by Matthew and Vincent Bucher, and they collaborated on the writing of the nine originals on the set.

Ya gotta have a great backing band, and Matthew’s sho’ nuff got one.  On keys is Johnny Iguana, on bass is Felton Crews, on drums is Marc Wilson, and guitar duties are shared by Giles Corey, Carlos Johnson, and Eddie Taylor, Jr.  The set kicks off with a cool harp-keys intro for Matthew’s 21ST Century update of Sonny Boy Williamson (1)’s “Welfare Store Blues,” this one lamenting the closing of “mom and pop stores” everywhere, in lieu of “The Big Box Store Blues.”  A tongue-in-cheek look at the business end of the blues reminds us of the old adage,  “if you want to be a millionaire playing the blues, it’s best to start out with two million!”  It’s a “funky situation, found Only In The Blues.”  It’s set over a cool rhumba-rockin’ beat, too.  “The Devil Ain’t Got No Music”  rides over a haunting beat, and connects that blurry line between gospel and blues.  “The Story Of Greed” fires a hard right cross at Big Business in today’s society, as Matthew’s harp moans over Brian Ritchie’s eerie shakuhachi, a traditional Japanese bamboo flute.

We had two favorites, too.  Matthew and the fellows rock the house with a song we first heard from Joe Louis Walker waaaay back in the day, “my baby caught a 747, ’cause the Greyhound runs too slow!”  And, the title cut is a cool biographical look at the history of the blues as seen thru the eyes of Matthew, a true “Blues Immigrant,” whose grandparents came thru Ellis Island in 1922.

Matthew Skoller continues to bring fans the best in harp-fueled blues, adapting the traditions of the past masters to fit right in with today’s contemporary audiences.  Always one to add a touch of humor into his blues, even with some deep, topical subject matter, “Blues Immigrant” is perhaps his finest effort to date!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

 

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