The Lebanon probably does not feature in most people's initial thoughts
when the blues is mentioned. There has been a small but active scene there
for several years, however, which managed to keep going even during the
civil war. Out of that scene comes "Blues All Over Me," the debut album
from Sergio Bikhazi, formerly leader of the Real Deal Blues Band, and now
fronting Dubai's only blues band, The Blues Drivers.
The album opens nicely with "Pierre's Blues," a song dedicated to the
memory of the late Lebanese philanthropist Pierre Aboukhater. It has a laid
back late night feel to it. The keyboards provide the musical canvas which
Bikhazi decorates with some tasteful guitar work with shades of B.B. King
and Peter Green. There is then a change of tempo as things get rocking on
"We All Have The Blues" where the horns make their first of several welcome
appearances. The engine room of Rolly Ghibril (drums) and Rev. Uwe Weltzien
(bass) also get a name check, and a chance to show what they can do.
Bikhazi obviously knows his stuff. On the original "I Ain't John Lee
Hooker," with its byline of "but I sure can play the blues," for example,
he comes pretty close to capturing the secret of John Lee Hooker. Even
though the song lasts well over nine minutes, and is built around the
prototypical Hooker refrain, it never gets boring or dull. There are other
obvious influences too, which shine through on songs like "Woke Up With
These Blues" where Buddy Guy comes to mind.
The album rounds off with the only non-original song, "Low and Dirty",
which is performed solo by Bikhazi. It is a fitting way to end the album,
showing that Bikhazi has an awareness of the wider world of the blues, and
a good appreciation of what makes for good blues music.
"Blues All Over Me" is a good album from a talented artist backed by a very
good band. Although Bikhazi's day job keeps him occupied and away from
home, he likes to play the blues whenever (and wherever) he gets the
chance. "Blues All Over Me" suggests that when Sergio Bikhazi does play, it
is worth paying attention.
Footnote: For every sale of the album, one U.S. Dollar is to be donated to
The Church of the German Congregation of Beirut. To buy the album, try
e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org in the first instance.
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