Singer/songwriter/guitarist Vino Louden gives his best whether he is performing for 20 or 20,000. He was hand picked by Koko Taylor to join her Blues Machine ten years ago. Her interest was sparked while he was in Mighty Joe Young's band. Later, when she saw Louden in an Otis Clay video, she knew she had to have Vino as her guitarist. If you have seen Miss Taylor during the past decade then you have seen Vino. He is the charismatic showman who plays guitar with his tongue during one of the most tantalizing moments of the performance. It's more than just a gimmick, it allows Vino to demonstrate he is one of the genuine real deal contemporary blues guitar players.
Along with other modern day unsung guitar heroes such as Carl Weathersby, Chico Banks, Kenny Neal, Carlos Johnston, Bernard Allison and Ronnie Baker Brooks, Vino holds the future of the blues in his hands. Although he continues to regularly perform with the Queen of the Blues, he put together his own band a couple of years ago. The six favorable recordings on this 42 minute disc were compiled from numerous performances at Chicago's Kingston Mines. They originally aired on WRMN's Chicago Blues Explosion on 1410AM.
Four of the tracks are well known covers. "Black Cat Bone" has a laid back structure yet Vino's guitar is adrenaline-laced. The organist is set loose and proceeds to shake the walls. Here and throughout, Louden rolls the lyrics out with bellowing force. The band rocks "Bright Lights Big City" up old school style. The piano impresses and holds the rhythms while Vino solos like a forerunner. Here, the entire band cooks and functions as a single unit. The lyrics to "Big Leg Woman" are tempting and satisfying. Perhaps they are what enables Vino to float effortlessly up and down the fretboard. On "Teeny Weeny Bit", the guitar notes bend and curve quickly to the point where you expect the guitar to flip and roll over. Vino stays in control of his six-string engine and weaves through the backfiring notes from the keyboard. The ride ends on the verge of contemporary blues ecstasy. "I Just Wanna Make Love To You" is Louden's signature 12 minute tune where he becomes the ultimate entertainer. He strings his audience in like a fish -- telling them, 'you gotta put something in if you wanna get something out.' You can practically see him licking the guitar strings at one point. Based on the crowd's reaction, all agreed it was string lickin' good.
The production is less than stellar, the majority of tracks are covers, you can only purchase the disc off Vino's bandstand, there are no liner notes (so who is in the band and when it was recorded are unknown) and it isn't near as bewildering as seeing him perform live in person. In a nutshell, the disc only hints at the brilliance of Vino Louden. However, it does succeed at introducing a new modern master whose clever arrangements, high-energy guitar hooks and enthusiastic stage presence will appease a new generation of blues lovers. With stronger production and marketing, Louden will easily be able to make the break from being a constant sideman.
For additional information, contact Vino at 773-838-8330 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Tim Holek - Freelance Journalist/Photographer
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