Bill Lupkin is a veteran vocalist/harmonica player who recorded with Jimmy Rogers in 1972 before giving up music full time as a full time career and returning to his hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana to run a stained glass business. However, Lupkin has kept his chops sharp and has now released a live album that was recorded live at the Hot Spot in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The backing band on the disc is made up of Mark Fornek on drums, Steve Lupkin on bass, Barrelhouse Chuck on piano and Billy Flynn on guitar. All the players have long been associated with the Chicago blues scene and the experience shows as the band plays as an ensemble with no one member dominating the proceedings.
The disc starts off with a version of Muddy Water's "Blow Wind Blow" which quickly serves notice that this is a traditional Chicago blues band and not a group of recycled rock and rollers trying to play the blues. The next song "Man or Mouse" features a great groove sparked by some monster harp work from Lupkin. Throughout the disc, Lupkin proves that the years he spent running his business have not diminished his ability to play the harp, as demonstrates his prowess on the slow blues of "Where You Goin." As well as contributed solid harp playing to the disc, Lupkin is also a capable vocalist with a voice well suited for the material he covers. The final two tracks on the disc find guitarist Flynn taking over the vocals and proving that he is also a very good vocalist as well as a world class guitarist.
While listening to this disc, I kept noticing how well the musicians jelled together as a band. This sounds like a band that has worked together for years although my suspicion is that they are a loose aggregation of friends who only play together occasionally. Like the great Chicago blues masters who have come before them, they understand that true Chicago blues comes from a group effort rather than relying on flashy soloing. A good effort. Highly recommended.
This review is copyright © 2000 by Barry Gober, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.