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CD Review
Big Ken Smith
"Hometown Homesick Blues"
Cold Wind Records CRW 9604-2, 12 tracks, 43 minutes
by Kurt Koehler
Singer, songwriter, and bass player from Nashville, Big Ken Smith, recently spent about a year in the Twin Cities before moving to California. During his stay here in the North Country, Big Ken hooked up with local label Cold Wind Records producer, Tim Bradach. The result is this fine release of twelve tunes with eleven original blues numbers written by Ken Smith and a host of collaborators including Don Nix, who penned the classic "Goin' Down" that was made famous by Freddie King and also was recorded by numerous blues/rockers. One other tune on this CD is also a Nix classic, "Same Old Blues," a Big Ken Smith personal favorite. Big Ken is a fifteen year veteran with country star Bobby Bare's band touring the world and playing Nashville. The seasoning and wealth of that experience is evident in Ken's voice and his powerful playing on this CD. Joining Big Ken Smith on this recording are drummer Sam Lay (Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and - on CHESS Records - Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Howlin' Wolf), guitarist Larry Burton (Albert King, Albert Collins, Lou Rawls, Taj Mahal, Fenton Robinson, Johnny Winter), keyboard player Willie Murphy (Willie & the Bees), drummer Bill Swartz (Rod Piazza & the Mighty Flyers), pianist Celia Price (Sam Lay Blues Band), and others. The musicianship on this CD is top end and it really comes through. "Hometown Homesick Blues" is classic electric blues with a fair amount of southern rock influences threaded throughout and it's played with a whole lotta soul. This is bar band music all the way. The dancing begins from the opening cut with the tongue in cheek, "Somebody Got To Do It," and the fun continues with tunes like "Rock And A Hard Case," "Home of the Blues" and "Cruise Control," and if you're not careful, this one will grow on you fast.

This review is copyright 1998 by Kurt Koehler, all rights reserved.

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Copyright 1998 by Ray M. Stiles
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, or any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.