The face of Chicago blues, Buddy Guy released Born To Play Guitar in July. Buddy could be resting on his laurels, but continues to produce quality music. This project was produced by Tom Hambridge. Tom also had a hand in writing most of the songs. Tom has become sort of a superstar producer. He has worked with Johnny Winter, ZZ Top, George Thorogood and many others. He’s currently working with Foghat on their next album. This is not his first foray with Buddy. He also worked with him on Skin Deep, Living Proof and Rhythm & Blues. He won a Grammy for Living Proof. He has received Grammy nominations for recordings by Johnny Winter, Susan Tedeschi and Buddy’s Skin Deep. He won a Blues Music Award for Buddy’s Skin Deep.
Once again the formula is to surround Buddy with guest musicians. On the track ‘Wear You Out’, Buddy is joined by ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons. It’s a rocker reminiscent of the familiar ZZ Top sound. Buddy is also joined by Kim Wilson of the Fabulous Thunderbirds on ‘Too Late’ and ‘Kiss Me Quick’. A tribute to BB King is done with Van Morrison contributing vocals on ‘Flesh and Bone’. Another unnecessary guest is Joss Stone on the duet ‘(Baby) You Got What It Takes’. Tracks this writer enjoyed for that Buddy Guy guitar sound included ‘Whiskey, Beer and Wine’, ‘Turn Me Wild’ and ‘Smarter Than I Was’.
Smoky Greenwell released New Orleans Blues Jam, Live at the Old U.S. Mint in August. It took a while to listen to this disc, but it grew on this writer after a couple of spins. Smoky is a harmonica player who is a former member of the band War. The harp is great throughout. With this disc, there are two guests who actually contribute songs that add something to the project. Sunpie Barnes contributes ‘Love’s Gone’. It adds the zydeco sound thanks to his accordion. Guitarist Mark Pentone adds the song ‘I Earned the Right to Sing the Blues’. Each contributed two songs. This writer’s favorite tune is the closer ‘Back to the Boogie’.
October brought the release of Dudley Taft’s Skin and Bones. Dudley hails originally from Ohio. He grew up with Trey Anastacio of Phish. They formed a band in high school called Space Antelope. This album sounds like a combination of rocking blues, southern rock and alternative rock. His influences range from Johnny Winter, Hubert Sumlin, Elmore James, ZZ Top and Alice In Chains. Reese Wynans of the Stevie Ray Vaughan band contributes keyboards. This is a solid album start to finish. One this writer really, really likes. It’s hard to pick a couple of favorite tunes because there are too many good ones. Buy it.
Trudy Lynn released Everything Comes With a Price in November. John in Houston sent a link to this disc and this writer’s first thought was this is kind of Koko Taylor like. As it turned out, Trudy had been nominated for the Koko Taylor Award a couple of times by the Blues Music Awards. The harp of Steve Krase along with Trudy’s vocals work well together. It’s really what impressed this writer. The CD’s highlights include ‘My Alley Boogie’, ‘I’m Gonna Latch On’, ‘Ella Johnson’s Blues’ and the title track.
Finally, there was one release that was of some historic significance that arrived in November, Genuine Blues Legends. Pinetop Perkins and Jimmy Rogers were recorded together on May 21, 1988 in Ellsworth, Maine at the Grand Auditorium. Thanks to Mike Markowitz of Little Mike and the Tornadoes who were the backing band, this recording was preserved. They were the backing band for many blues artist when they were in New York.
On this recording Pinetop takes the lead to start off the disc for the first four tracks, then Jimmy has his turn. Pinetop is showcased on ‘Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie’ and ‘Kidney Stew’. Jimmy does a nice job on ‘All In My Sleep’ and ‘The Last Time’. Little Mike’s harp complements these two legends nicely. Here’s a chance to hear two Chicago legends in their prime with a sound that defies the technology of the time.