A Salute To Sunnyland Slim (15 tracks, 55 minutes) covers similar territory as the above disc and does overlap with a half-dozen cuts, but there's plenty to make this another highly interesting addition. Chuck's Floral Park Boogie is a stripped-down piano grind finding Rich Kirch, Frank Bandy, and Sam Lay in support and a slow and burning Depression Blues has Chuck at the keys of the Farfisa organ assisted by Todd Levine's harp, tandem guitars from Flynn and Brown, while Rick Holmes and S.P. Leary made up the rhythm section on bas and drums. Todd Levine fronts Little Walter's Shake Dancer with tough harp and even though covering a lesser-known gem from the bag of a master, Levine shows originality while holding true to traditional form, and for Sleepy John Estes' Everybody's Got To Change Sometime, Goering handles vocals with taste and grit while his piano work is stellar. Sunnyland Slim's Going Back To Memphis is nicely done and Sonny Boy Williamson's Cool Disposition has Levine behind the microphone, and while he's got a few shortcomings as a vocalist, his harp and the tight backing hit the correct nerve. There's a hidden goldmine of a few brief minutes following what appears to be the final track and easily makes this set an even more worthwhile purchase; hearing the voices of Sunnyland Slim, S.P. Leary, Jimmy Walker, Floyd Jones, Fred Below, and other luminaries laughing and talking to Chuck's answering machine, will bring a tearful smile to those who understand the magnitude of those we have lost over the years. Simply put, a masterful conclusion to a great blues offering.
Once again, while showing Barrelhouse Chuck has all the necessary goods to keep Chicago's rich piano tradition alive, it's just as much a compilation showing the strong and able contributions of others. With Chuck Goering and Erwin Helfer (both featured on The Sirens piano blues series), among a few others still delivering blues piano, Chicago-style, it's in great hands. While a number of key figures have passed on since Chuck's emergence on the scene, he's doing more than his share to keep the tradition alive and well. www.barrelhousechuck.com or www.thesirensrecords.com will offer more information.
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