Steve Howell And The Mighty Men review…July 12, 2018….

STEVE HOWELL AND THE MIGHTY MEN

FEAT. KATY HOBGOOD RAY

GOOD AS I BEEN TO YOU

OUT OF THE PAST MUSIC  OOTP 009

BACON FAT–WHEN I WAS A COWBOY (OUT IN THE WESTERN PLAINS)–NEW DIRTY DOZENS–IT HURTS TO BE IN LOVE–COME BACK BABY–BLUES IN THE BOTTLE–EASY RIDER–THE SUN AIN’T GONNA SHINE (ANY MORE)–BAD LUCK BLUES–LINING TRACK–YOU GONNA QUIT ME BABY

Steve Howell is one of the classic guitarist/storytellers on the scene today.  With his quartet, The Mighty Men, they specialize in traditional blues from their native home base of the tri-state area known as “Texarkana,”  preferring melody and lyrics over flash and panache.’  Their latest outing, and third overall, is entitled, “Good As I Been To You,” this one featuring the added vocals from Katy Hobgood Ray.  The eleven cuts on this one are varied, unique, rare gems that have always been favorites of Steve.  They include contributions from Leadbelly, Blind Blake, Memphis Minnie, and Steve’s favorite of all the Texas blues men, Blind Lemon Jefferson.  Let’s get into it all….

The set opens on a humorous note, with an Andre’ Williams chestnut, and “that sound that’s sweepin’ the South,” the “diddley-wop” chorus of “Bacon Fat.”  Steve and Katy make excellent duet partners on Leadbelly’s ode to a legendary run-in with Jesse James, “When I Was A Cowboy (Out In The Western Plains).  Katy, herself a noted children’s authoress, tackles the playfully-naughty Memphis Minnie blues of the “New Dirty Dozens,” including the tale of the tomcat and the sewing machine!  She returns a bit later for a mesmerizing, reverential read of Leadbelly’s country-blues of “Easy Rider.”

Steve offers up a couple of nice takes on two songs that helped define Sixties’ pop music, first with Gene Pitney’s “It Hurts To Be In Love,” and Frankie Valli’s “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Any More), a sad tale of a love seemingly lost forever.

Our favorites closed the proceedings.  First, Steve and all the Mighty Men take the field recording, “Lining Track,” (a railroad term), to dazzling heights, presenting it here as it likely was written, in a totally a cappella performance.  The set proper ends with what plays out to be the title track, “You Gonna Quit Me Baby, good as I been to you,” originally done by Arthur “Blind” Blake.  This one has a “loose” feel, likely from Blake’s affinity for the ragtime piano playing he incorporated in his guitar lines.  Steve captures that essence and spirit perfectly!

Steve Howell And The Mighty Men continue to bring fans the best in stories-in-songs from the masters of the blues.  “Good As I Been To You” carries on this most excellent tradition!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

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