Before we take a long holiday weekend off to chase wild turkeys and Wild Turkey through the the wilds of West Virginia and Virginia, there's a fine new CD that deserves a mention.
It's from Jim Byrnes, a St. Louis-born blues singer and actor, now working out of Canada, and it's definitely worth a listen. His bio is way too involved to summarize here, so check that link.
The album is "Everywhere West" (Black Hen Records), and it's packed full of good old blues and down-home music that sounds like it could have been recorded years ago in the mists of great old blues music.
He soaked up a lot of blues in his hometown (Ike and Tina Turner were the house band in a neighborhood bar) before heading north in the '70s,relocated in Canada, and enjoyed an acting and musical career. This isn't his first album, by any means, and I'm sorry I've missed the earlier ones, especially if this one is an indication of their quality.
Byrnes has a gritty, smoky voice that sounds like sandpaper soaked in good whiskey, plays tough guitar, and fronts a tight band laced with fine slide, kicking horns and plenty of blues attitude.
There are some crisply fried originals like the opening track, "Hot as a Pistol," loaded with rolling organ solos and call-and-response horns. Producer Steve Dawson contributes an evil slide guitar throughout. Here's a sample of that track:
And there are wonderful covers of classics like Lowell Fulson's "Black Nights" (an especially tough track). Then there's traditional old-timey music like "Bootlegger's Blues," complete with mandolin and fiddle, and Louis Jordan's "You Can't Get That Stuff No More." There's also a thoroughly snappy version of Robert Johnson's "From Four Until Late." Not to mention a dandy reproduction of Jimmy Reed's "Take Out Some Insurance On Me."
This guy is good. If you haven't heard him, you should.