The Dallas Blues Society (DBS) has only produced a handful of records in its
time. However, one of the things that I have noted about DBS recordings is
that they usually are something special for anyone lucky enough to obtain a
copy. Whether it is young, rising guitarist like Johnny Moeller, or veteran
players like Denny Freeman, Big Al Dupree or Henry Qualls, you definitely
get your money's worth from these recordings.
Johnny Moeller's Blues Aggregation is the latest release from Dallas Blues
Society Records and guitarist Johnny Moeller. Moeller is a seasoned Texas
guitarist whose star is definitely on the rise. Moeller has worked with
numerous Texas blues stalwarts including Darrell Nulisch, Lou Ann Barton,
Angela Strehli and Doyle Bramhall, Jr., to name a few. Along with his
brother Jason Moeller on drums and Mike Flanigin on Hammond B-3 and
occasional bass, Moeller's band holds down a regularly weekly gig at
Antone's, the home of the blues in Austin, Texas.
On the latest CD, Moeller enlists the help of a few of his buddies from the
Texas blues scene and performers who have followings outside of the Lonestar
State. Mike Keller, currently making a name for himself as part of the
Keller Brothers Band contributes heavily to the CD, splitting duties on
upright bass 50/50 with Johnny Bradley (current bassist for Lou Ann Barton's
backup band, along with the Moeller Brothers). Another member of the Keller
Brothers Band, Matt Farrell, provides some wailing vintage piano riffs along
with handling a major portion of the vocals on the CD. Better known for his
fiery guitar, Shawn Pittman contributes vocals and piano on the Johnny
"Guitar" Watson tune, "Thinking." Finally, Homer Henderson takes on vocals
and rhythm guitar duties for three songs; "Oh Baby Oh," Roy Head's "Your
Turn To Cry" and "You Got Me Crying" from the Jimmy Reed music catalog.
One of the impressive things about Johnny Moeller's Blues Aggregation is
that the twelve cuts are not dominated by blues standards. Only two cuts on
the CD, "Stagger Lee" and "Worried Life Blues," are reasonably common fare
by numerous blues performers. Some of the other covers on the CD, "You Got
Me Crying," "Let's Get High," Mistreated," "Your Turn To Cry" and "Mama,
The Way You Look Tonight" are lesser recorded gems that give Johnny
Moeller's Blues Aggregation an original feel beyond the two instrumental
originals by Johnny Moeller, "Bak 'n' Forf" and "Slingin' Hash," along with
the Slim Harpo-influenced tune by Jason Moeller, "J's Scratcher."
At various times through the CD, listeners will hear reminders of other
Texas musicians from Jimmy Vaughan to Mike Morgan with a little Buddy Holly
thrown in for good measure. Moeller's guitar stands out on the two
instrumentals, "Bak 'n' Forf" and "Slingin' Hash," as well as on Roy Head's
"Your Turn To Cry." It is nice that Moeller does not try to dominate the CD
with lightning guitar riffs, instead promoting a more piano dominated, older
style blues sound throughout the CD. Whether evidenced by the piano work by
Shawn Pittman on "Thinking" or Mike Farrell's emotional piano magic
throughout the rest of the CD. Farrell's piano really shines on Memphis
Slim's "Mama, The Way You Look Tonight," "Let's Get High," and "Stagger
Lee," along with Johnny Moeller's two previously mentioned instrumentals.
If you like Texas-style blues, especially with a more classic sound, Johnny
Moeller's Blues Aggregation is a must listen. For more information on
Johnny Moeller and his two releases on Dallas Blues Society Records, Johnny
Moeller's Blues Aggregation and Return Of The Funky Worm (1996), visit the
Blues Society's web page at www.dallasbluessociety.com. CDs are available
through the Dallas Blues Society as well as a number of online music sellers
listed on the DBS website.
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.
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