I'm not going to waste your time with a lot of unnecessary reviewer-ese. I'm going to get straight to the point. Just like this band does. They go right to the heart of the blues, finds its' essence then plays a bass-drum dominated groove that drips male-ness, skill, and creativity into a Minnesota-nice package that brings home the goods. This is big hunk o' man, testosterone-driven blues with a feeling. Dominated by 6 foot 6, George Jackson, this five piece big tone, big talent blues machine punches all the right buttons, in the right order, producing the right effect.
George's aware and hip band stays even more in the background on this release "Big Shot" than they did on the previous Black & Tan offering "Beggin Ain't For Me." They're smart enough to keep George up front, undiluted, while all the time they play with minimal elegance, coming forward only to wrap around George like a custom made suit of clothes. Both Phil Schmid and Jeremy Johnson play guitar from the same point of view, a BB King/Chet Atkins/Bill Broonzy amalgam that sends angles of color around the room. John Schroder plays his bass like a rhythm guitar, filling the places Johnson and Schmid leave behind with 3-D bass licks that reach out from the stage to summon dancers to the floor. Drummer Dwight Dario, an obvious student of Fred Below, plays with a sophisticated nonchalance that masks his perfectly timed and cultured "in-the pocket" delivery. As accompanists, the band nails George's style to the wall, which is an down home vocal and harmonica ride between country and Chicago blues.
The entire 11 tune CD never misses a mark. And here, a special nod has to go to Minneapolis sound engineer, and drummer, Brad Moe of Minnesota's New Moon Studios. The texturized, laid-back sound of the snare and cymbals are trademarks of his distinctive ear and touch. The originals on "Big Shot", are the most dynamic but George imbues the three covers with a contemporary dusty road authenticity that gets the thumbs up from both Jimmy Reed and Walter Horton. My two favorites are # 3 and #9, both material penned by the band. Check out the instrumental synthesis on "What You Got" and you'll see why I keep hitting #3 on the CD player. Nothing but power and groove, big groove. The instrumental "The Daddy" wasn't what I was expecting, but it showcases the kind of innovative prowess that is a signature of this band.
When I last talked to them, they had just gotten back from two and a half weeks in Europe. They played gigs in Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg and France. I asked what was the best part of the trip and everyone said the same thing: the people! European fans love the blues and are very knowledgeable about the music and the musicians. Look for George and his band to head back overseas in the Fall of 2001.
Big Daddy George Jackson and his band of talented men will steal your attention and your blues away. Underneath that cuddly veneer, George Jackson is a street smart musician, who's surrounded himself with fine craftsmen, honest tunes, superlative production and a big....uh....personality. Hey, George, you "Big Shot", I'm a St. Paul woman. Tell me more about those Dirty Haints....
This review is copyright © 2001 by Jacquie Maddix, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.
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