"Blues Across America" The Nashville Scene, is an eclectic batch of blues by 4 different veteran blues players and their respective bands, Al Garner & The Roadrunners, Johnny Jones, Charles "Wigg" Walker, and Clifford Curry. Not household names, by any means, but the genuine article just the same.
Al Garner's unit is a hard shuffling sextet featuring some "Longhair" influenced piano from Jay Spell, and the honkin' tenor saxophone of Doug Moffit. Although Nashville ainít Dallas, the influence of the Texas shuffle style is unmistakable, and The Roadrunners are a fine example of a driving blues band, with modern sounds, and a groove rooted deeply in the masters.
Johnny Jones, dirtier, funkier, and meaner, recalls some of the bluesier works of 2 other "Johnnies," Johnny Jenkins (who had a fine record years ago on Capricorn, if I remember correctly, "TonTon Macoute"), and the inimitable "Johnny" Guitar" Watson. And, if thatís not enough, his vocal stylings are reminiscent of B.B King! This is the snaky, slippery, low down grinding blues, and if this doesnít do SOMETHING to ya, I hate to say it, you're either not a blues fan, or you're dead.
Enter Charles "Wigg" Walker. This is SOUL music! His selections touch on a bit of Sam & Dave, an altered, gospel-y slow blues a la " I Wish It Would Rain," with some fine emotional guitar from Fred James, and a jump-up cross between "The Hunter," and "Your Cash Ainít Nothing But Trash."
Clifford Curry, another soul shouter, last on the CD, certainly holds up to his earlier compadres in every way, and if initials mean anything, "C.C.ís" first cut reminded me of Clarence Carter.
This is an excellent record -- it took 2 listenings before I read that many of the same musicians perform on several cuts, most noticeably Fred James, playing lead and rhythm guitar, drums. and electric piano. It actually sounds like different groups, which I liked. What we have here are 4 real Blues singers, that have been around since the late 50s, as sidemen for the likes of Bobby "Blue" Bland and Earl Gaines before starting their own groups, with crack bands, coming right out of the heart of "country" country.
In the words of some other "Mothers", " whooooo could imagine"? "It canít happen here, it canít happen here..." but it did! And "The Nashville Scene" is making it happen where youíd least expect it. A feather in the caps of all involved, and 4 stars for the CD. Its the real deal!
This review is copyright © 1999 by Guadalupe Slim, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.