By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
Texas Blues Radio
Time was, KNON DJs who did Texas blues shows had to bring in old vinyl by dead guys. Now, they have new CDs by Dallas/Fort Worth players who are not only alive, but gigging in your neighborhood bar. Smart move to kick off with "Goin' Back to Texas" from Bob Kirkpatrick's 1996 JSP album of that name: His brawny voice appeals to anyone into the "shouting" style associated with Zuzu Bollin and Big Joe Turner. He's also a good guitarist, like B.B. King only jazzier, and ably backed by Wilford Sims, a saxophone player who has been on the scene hereabouts for many a moon. Tact and Fort Worth's U.P. Wilson are foes, as is evinced by the ear-curdling chunka-chunka that commences "Roll Over." Once championed ages ago as the equal of Albert Collins, Wilson's not as artful and can't sing as well, but as far as shrill, molar-gnashing guitar goes, he's got tons. There are three choruses of singing and three of guitar solo, which is uncommonly balanced for Wilson. Live, he'd likely sing one and solo for the next 50. "Roll Over" is from Whirlwind, the best of Wilson's CDs.
Kenny Traylor's torchy "Red Haired Fort Worth Girl" is a classic example of no-shuck, Texas white-dude juke music. Traylor's not long on pipes, but the song's strong (he co-wrote it), and he contributes some sharp guitar. Andrew "Junior Boy" Jones has backed Bobby Patterson, Freddy King, and others. His "Tribute to Freddy" borrows the melody from "Ain't Nobody's Business" (one of King's showstoppers) and is a spoken reminiscence with some hot guitar for closure. Totally appropriate is the rambunctious drumming from Charles "Sugar Boy" Meyers, long a King accompanist himself.
"Hop On" is a tribute to Houston blues thug Hop Wilson, from the Johnny Moeller/Paul Size CD Return of the Funky Worm. Both are exciting guitarists, but most of the leads are from Mike Flanigan's steel guitar. The overall sound is greasier than a steelworker's sputum. Cold Blue Steel does "Charley's Shuffle." CBS is noted for vocal buffoonery, but this instrumental highlights the band's original guitarist, Mark Pollock, and his dizzying leads.
Josh Alan does the only acoustic tune, a hearteningly ill-humored "Wretched Day." Boozy and far from ornate is the galumphing "Elmo Stomp" by Henry Qualls, bearded bane of feral boars in Elmo, Texas. Closing--finally!--is a song that highlights an instrument other than guitar. "Nosey Woman" is by the fine pianist Al Dupree, and spotlights a smoky voice, world-wise lyrics, and an authority that reappears only on the Kirkpatrick cut. This CD's no classic, but it'll prep you for the blues to be had in metroplex beer joints.