Big Walter Smith and the various incarnations of his band, The Groove Merchants, have graced the stages of Twin Cities clubs for many years. Smith himself is a blues veteran with more than 48 years experience covering every aspect of the music business.
Groovin' with Big Walter Smith and the Groove Merchants is Big Walter's fourth independent release. Despite numerous changes in the Groove Merchants' line up, musical director Scott Graves continues to be a mainstay for the band. The other band members on Groovin' include Joe Sherohman (bass), Tom McShane (drums), Paul Wigen (keyboards), Tom Tange (trumpet), Ted "T-Bone" Thomas (trombone), and Jim Kogl (tenor sax).
Groovin' is a marvelous representation of Big Walter's live shows. The CD is full of Walter's distinctive vocals and his very tight band. As has been the case on previous releases, Walter's strength on this CD is not to dazzle the listener with powerful original tunes but more so with his fantastic interpretations of songs written by some of the giants of the blues.
On Groovin', Walter covers songs by Albert King, Magic Slim, Albert Collins, and Chuck Berry among others. Hearing Walter belting out songs ranging from Chuck Berry's, "Johnny B. Goode" to Albert King's, "Breaking Up Somebody's Home" along with his great band is always refreshing and entertaining whether its on a CD or in a live show. The fourteen songs on Groovin' fit very well together into a very cohesive 68-minute "set".
Big Walter Smith is a Twin Cities legend and Groovin' is a premier example of how he achieved his status. To find out more about this fine CD and Big Walter Smith, visit his website at www.bigwaltersmith.com.
This review is copyright © 2001 by Dave "Doc" Piltz, 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.