Cryin' Shame is made up of a group of Twin Cities musicians who came together to assemble a very personal musical project. After spending nearly a year assembling a repertoire of original material to perform as a group, the members instead chose to break up, leaving the material untried and unheard.
Several months later, after a snowstorm brought the members back together at a local bar, a discussion over a few beers resulted in a group decision to "complete" the project. Though no long term band would come out of the project, the aptly-titled CD, Unfinished Business was produced and is now available to anyone savvy enough to take advantage of the assembled talents of these five fine musicians. The members of Cryin' Shame; Mickey Bauer (vocals), Jeff Peck (guitar), Jeff Lawlis (keyboards), John Foster (drums) and Brian Annett (bass), perform the bulk of the instruments and all had a hand in writing the all original material on Unfinished Business.
Grounded in the lyrics of former Cool Disposition vocalist Mickey Bauer, the material on Unfinished Business represents the varied musical backgrounds of the members of Cryin' Shame. The ten songs on the CD represent a number of styles ranging all the way from acoustic delta blues to Texas Swing and classic Chicago blues.
Unfinished Business opens with the up tempo Mickey Bauer-penned "Hard To Have The Blues." Jeff Peck, Brian Annett and John Foster follow with their initial contribution to the musical mix on "Can't Catch My Breath," a song that has a Stevie Ray Vaughan-like Texas blues sound and includes a nice extended guitar solo by Jeff Peck.
Bauer and Annett team up for the Texas shuffle sound of "Just Good Friends," a song that includes guest appearances by John Keefe on slide guitar and Harold Tremblay for a nicely done harp solo. "Too Much Rhythm" is next, keeping the musical variation alive in a song that has more of a Chicago blues feeling.
Jeff Peck's guitar takes center stage on his acoustic composition, "All Day Sucker." This song has a nice, easy feel to it with the melodic vocals of Mickey Bauer. Next, keyboard player Jeff Lawlis makes his first compositional contribution to the recording with the burning, slow blues, "Empty Matchbox," featuring Lawlis on piano and organ, with another nice guitar solo by Jeff Peck.
The lucky number seven song on Unfinished Business is my personal favorite, "As Good As Gold." Interestingly, although the song is credited to vocalist Mickey Bauer, lead vocals on the number are handled by Jeff Lawlis. With a nice driving piano and Harold Tremblay's harp, this is one fine song. Along with the catchy lyrics, I particularly enjoyed the Lawlis piano solo and Tremblay harp break prior to closing out the song. "As Good As gold" is followed by another fine song, "Ain's Gonna Play Anymore," which stands out thanks to the featured bass solo by Brian Annett and a tasty B-3 solo by Jeff Lawlis. Next, the CD returns to its acoustic roots for the Delta sound created for "Choices I Have Chosen To Choose," featuring the guitar stylings of Jeff Peck, accompanied by Harold Tremblay's final guest appearance on harp and Mickey Bauer's vocals.
In a dramatic turnaround, Unfinished Business ends on a rock n' roll note with the Peck/Annett/Foster composition, "No Name Joe." This song is a socially conscious rocker that points out the plight of a homeless man in the Minneapolis night.
Listening to the raw talent demonstrated in the music on Unfinished Business, it leaves you to wonder what might have happened if Cryin' Shame had decided to stay together and give it a go on the Minneapolis bar circuit. Though we will never know about the lost future of Cryin' Shame, the availability of Unfinished Business through the Cryin Shame website (www.cryin-shame.com) at least offers some measure of consolation.
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This review is copyright © 2002 by Dave "Doc" Piltz, and Blues On Stage at: www.mnblues.com, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission.
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