Reviewing CDs comes with all sorts of surprises. One never knows what to expect and sometimes the artist to be reviewed hasn’t been heard of before. These situations occasionally turn out to be diamonds in the rough that are far better than releases by nationally known names. Such is the case with Pat Ramsey’s most recent CD. This Shreveport native has been blowing harp since the age of 17. His biggest claim to fame was laying down all the harp tracks on Johnny Winter’s ‘White Hot and Blue’ album from the late 70s. Pat spent most of the 90s honing his chops in Sarasota, FL and Memphis, TN. He and his wildly enthusiastic band now tour constantly in the southern States.
From the picture on the back cover, they appear to be 4 men least likely to be able to play dem blues. But as the old saying goes, you shouldn’t judge a book by its (back) cover. The Blues Disciples are a group of highly competent blues musicians including: Dave Renson (guitars), Steve Howell (drums), Melvin Clemans (bass) and David Webb (keys). Pat handles all the vocals and harmonicas. Throughout 9 tracks (4 originals) and 54 minutes you will be mesmerized by this band’s performance.
Things begin with "Build Me A Woman" and its catchy rhythm that features a groovin’ guitar. The lyrics are about the type of woman that a man dreams about. The tune features a great piano solo followed by a wicked guitar solo followed by an outstanding harp solo. This blues-curing formula is repeated on "Got Love If You Want It (Texas)". They do a laid back version of "Love Her With A Feeling" and add a touch of jazz thanks to David’s extraordinary piano solo. On the tune, Ramsey proves himself to be a superharp. His voice is kind of soft, kind of heavy yet overall effective and pleasant. More shuffling and boogying continues on Winter’s "One Step At A Time".
A unique cover of "Chitlins Con Carne" is thrown into the mix and is performed so originally that you may not recognize it. Here, Ramsey’s expressive harp work is brilliant. It isn’t over the top yet it is dramatic and potent. The piano/guitar solo that follows is almost as sensational. Wicked slide is all over "Highway 49". The way they perform this song proves they are ready to be national headliners. A touch of soul features on "I Love You". On this one, Ramsey uses his full, dynamic vocal range. The tune has an R&B flavor and makes you feel like you remember the song from the distant past. "Allergic To Work" combines humorous lyrics with wild, rock and roll guitar. An extended harp solo is then used to segue into the closer, "Dead Shrimp Blues".
The otherwise crystal clear recording occasionally contains heavily noticeable static-like interference which is a nuisance. The live recording was made at the Grand Casino Gulfport, MS. The audience must have been very slim or they were heavily filtered out of the final mix. Musically, Pat Ramsey and his band are not doing a lot new but they are a tightly integrated act who attractively play with much enthusiasm and energy. What do you mean you haven’t heard of these guys before? Shame on you!
For CDs and information, visit www.patramsey.com or contact Pat Ramsey, PO Box 6628, Biloxi, MS 39532 (228) 396-2527
This review is copyright © 2001 by Tim Holek, 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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