The Smoke Wagon Blues Band review…November 18, 2016…

THE SMOKE WAGON BLUES BAND

CIGAR STORE

SMBBCD 06

WALKING CANE–MUST’VE READ IT WRONG–I TRIED–HOODOO WOMAN–PUT THE QUILT OUT TO DRY–DIRECTLY UNDER HER THUMB–CIGAR STORE–WHITE MULE–SET ME FREE–MEAN OLD LADY–I CAN’T CHANGE–QUARTER MILE–YOU’VE BEEN A GOOD OLD WAGON

With the release of “Cigar Store,” The Smoke Wagon Blues Band mark a milestone twentieth anniversary as a band.  They formed in 1996 in Hamilton, Ontario’s Hess Village, a veritable “blues Mecca” in Canada, and have six critically-acclaimed albums under their belt.  Along with the soulful vocals and harp of frontman Corey Lueck, we have Mike Stubbs on guitar, Nick Succi on keys, Gordon Aeichele on the sax, Jason Colavecchia on bass, Tibor Lukacs on drums, and Steve Sherman also on organ and bass.

The cool thing about this band is their unique versatility and flexibility in playing various styles of blues, and this set is full of ’em.  The sax and keys work make for some fine funk and soul-blues cuts, and you can find those in the leadoff tale of a man who’s had all he can take, “somebody hand me my Walking Cane!”  The fellows revisit that funk later on, as Corey bemoans his “Mean Old Lady with a heart of stone,” but, “I just can’t leave her alone!”  Jump-blues driven by piano and horn is the theme of a lover who’s definitely the “queen bee,” and has Corey “Directly Under Her Thumb.”  And, the set closes on a ragtime-y note, as Corey gives a lover the real bad news, “You’ve Been A Good Old Wagon, but you done broke down!”

In between all these, we had several favorites, again done in varying styles.  The Biblical healing power  of “going down to the river to wash my hands of sin” is the message of the somber, powerful, “Set Me Free.”  Equally as impressive is a Delta-blues-inspired tale of the Civil War and the Underground Railroad, where to “Put The Quilt Out To Dry in the window sill” was a sign of a safe haven.  And, back on a humorous note, Corey’s the man who learned a lot from “a bathroom stall” and “girlie magazines,” but, sadly, “Must’ve Read It Wrong!”

The Smoke Wagon Blues Band are known for their red-hot live shows—just ask the folks last January down at Club 152 on Beale during the IBC”s.  You can get a good grasp of what they’re all about by giving a listen to “Cigar Store!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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