The blues world is full of guys like Bill Lupkin. While his is hardly a household name, when a CD finally appears it turns out he’s been around for many years, providing support for many of the music’s originators and innovators.
Lupkin’s credentials are solid; liner notes for “Where I Come From” include photos of him with the likes of Muddy and Wolf, and he spent a number of years in Jimmy Rogers’ band, all while jamming with a who’s who of Chicago blues.
None of the above, of course, were known to stand on ceremony, and neither does Lupkin. His music (this is an all-original program) is direct and unpretentious, with a sweaty honesty that would make his mentors proud.
Lupkin’s vocals may be a bit workmanlike, but his harmonica work is utterly superb. He’s got that classic, thick tone down pat, and while he never overplays there are just enough surprises, little twists and toss-off riffs, to keep things consistently interesting.
Lupkin mines time-honored themes in his songwriting – women and money troubles dominate - and remains well within twelve-bar tradition when it comes to song structures. So there’s nothing terribly new here; he isn’t out to stretch the form, instead opting to celebrate the music’s golden era, when blues was known as dance music and greasy grooves, rather than instrumental excess, were all that mattered.
With the exception of an alternate version of “Move Out To The Country” that closes the disc, recording duties were handled primarily by label honcho and guitarist Nick Moss, who specializes in a somewhat muddy ‘retro’ sound perfectly in keeping with the music itself. Not fancy, and downright dirty by contemporary standards, Moss manages a fine balance that gives every instrument equal prominence, with the result a true ensemble sound – again, an old-school approach that helps give proceedings a timeless quality.
A throwback, perhaps, but drenched with heart and soul and sweat. As Lupkin himself puts it, “I didn’t have to try and re-invent the wheel – I just got to play the music I love to play … it’s where I come from!”
If you’re a fan of classic Chicago-style blues, it simply doesn’t get much better than this one …highly recommended!