Attendance at a show by Bill Wharton and the Ingredients is a multi-sensory
experience; filled with sights, sounds, smells and tastes, as Wharton mixes his love for cooking up a giant pot of gumbo with his tasty blues sounds. Those willing to stay until the end of the show are rewarded with a steaming hot bowl of freshly prepared gumbo (compliments of Wharton), mixed and cooked throughout the evening of music. Bill Wharton has been playing and cooking his way across the United States and Europe for the past decade and, by his estimates, has served 70,000 bowls of free gumbo to satisfied listeners/diners.
"RECIPES" is Bill Wharton's sixth recording, following four on Kingsnake
Records and one on the French label, Virgin/Loft. It is also the first on his personal
label, Burning Disk. The "Sauce Boss" has created his own thriving business playing
the blues; recording and selling his music; and preparing/selling his own brand of hot
sauce under the "Liquid Summer" label. Another very unique characteristic of the new CD is that it is enhanced, offering a variety of interesting audio and video items,
including a cookbook, gumbo video, culinary travelogue, the history of Wharton's
"Liquid Summer" hot sauce and a link interface to his Sauce Boss web site.
Ten of the thirteen songs on "RECIPES" are Wharton-penned originals. The three covers on the CD include Lightning Hopkins, "She's Mine," "All Around Man" by Bo Carter and the traditional piece, "Take This Hammer". Approximately half of the songs are representative of the acoustic blues style, featuring various combinations of Wharton's signature slide guitar, piano by long time member of the Ingredients, John Babich and guest harmonica by Kenny Neal. The remaining songs are more fully instrumented with bass, Hammond organ and drums completing the band.
Overall, the acoustic tunes are some of the best on the CD. Especially entertaining are "All Round Man," with lots of great slide guitar; "Your Maytag Done Broke Down," an interesting song that intertwines sexual innuendo with washing machine repair; "Take This Hammer," a song that has a sound reminiscent of Little Feat, including some excellent piano by Babich and more Wharton slide; and "The Cyber Blues," which includes Wharton's signature slide guitar work and the sound of a computer "log on" by Augustine Antoine. On "Smackers," Wharton's guitar and vocals are well-supported by some excellent harp work by Kenny Neal, who appears on several of the other songs on the CD.
The electric blues offerings on "RECIPES" are generally more "boogie" oriented and feature the full band. These songs provide a variety of styles exemplified by the boogie "She's A Monkey," a song that describes the simian qualities of the female character in Wharton's song; the swampy rock of "Ten Foot Pole"; "Big Bang Theory," offering more of Wharton's dominant slide guitar; and, one of my favorite songs on the recording, "Hangin' With The Band," clearly the most sophisticated of the electric blues tunes.
If you are already a fan of Bill Wharton and the Ingredients, "RECIPES" will be a fine addition to your collection, offering a bit more acoustic slide guitar blues to your collection. "RECIPES" also offers a great introduction to Bill Wharton and the Ingredients because of the variety of blues styles offered on the CD. Either way, the only thing better than owning your own copy of "RECIPES" is to see Bill Wharton live and to taste his gumbo, along with his blues sounds. If you are interested in having
your own copy of "RECIPES," visit Bill Wharton's web site at www.sauceboss.com.
This review is copyright © 2000 by Dave "Doc" Piltz, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.