HOME OF THE BLUES
BY SONNY BOY LEE
Lea’s Lunchroom ain’t the only thing cookin’ down in LeCompte, Louisiana. Resident bluesman Burton Garr has brewed one powerful CD, Home of the Blues.
Seldom is a new release completely solid from beginning to end. Well, folks, Garr accomplished just that with his latest CD. Each song is right in the slot and smokes from beginning to end. This is one grooving blues album.
In addition to his really fine songwriting on all tracks but one, Garr covers all vocals. An amazingly versatile singer with apparent Southern Louisiana R&B roots, Garr pulls you in with vocal performances that are strong, melodic, sophisticated and solid.
Home of the Blues kicks off with the title song supported by a bass line reminiscent of "Born Under a Bad Sign." "Home of the Blues" is a moderate tempo tune and sets the pace and standard for the next 11 cuts.
"Blow Wind Blow" on track 2 is a nice up tempo shuffle and is played strong, like shuffles should be played. The track features a tasty harp solo and fine organ and guitar solos. "Repoman" opens with a guitar/bass hook that continues through the song backed by a kick ass horn section.
"Hole in My Heart" has some nice double stop guitar and a catchy chorus that goes, "She left a hole in my heart bigger than the Robert E. Lee," which you will find yourself singing days later. A standout with excellent sax work and smooth vocals laid on top of a funky groove, this song deserves to become a standard and alone would well be worth the price of the CD.
A rhythmic guitar and keys are featured on "Hall of Fame," which is one of those classic blues ballads that vamp between G and C. Personally, they always feed good and sound great. Well done.
I especially like "I Wonder" and "Still Singing the Blues," which incorporate great interplay between the members of the rhythm section and in the latter, the dynamic horn section.
The remaining cuts are all strong, with "Mississippi Water" the only one played in a minor key (Cm). Each song stands on its own. There is no filler material added to lengthen the album. All solos, no matter who is playing, are melodic and appropriate – no inflated egos here – just great musicianship.
Garr assembled a premier group of musicians. Some appeared on his previous album, Mighty Long Road. Randy Coleman is once again on bass (Home of the Blues was also recorded in his studio, Colemine Studios in Nashville). Other personnel include Shane Theriot (Neville Brothers) on guitar, Tim Gonzales on harp, former Allman Bros. Band member Johnny Neel (who co-wrote track 8, "My Little Feel Good," with D. Jones and R. Cullison) on organ and keys, and Marty Ojeda on tenor sax. Floyd Saizon handles drum chores this time around and works great with the other members of the rhythm section. The horn section is top notch and includes Steve Herrman on trumpet, Dennis Taylor and Ojeda on tenor saxes, and Tom McGinnley filling up the bottom with baritone sax. Danny Hamblin and Clay Krasner handle some of the guitar and bass tracks.
Home of the Blues is in the tradition of the great soul and R&B music of the ‘60s – what the Europeans call "deep soul." This album should do well in overseas markets.
Surf to Garr's fine website for info on buying Home of the Blues. Photos, upcoming gig info, a bio and music samples that also include cuts from two of Garr's previous CDs, Mighty Long Road and 100 Pounds of Trouble, are also available.
of the Blues photo Copyright © 2004 Burton
Photo used with permission.
CD review Copyright © 2004 Sonny Boy Lee.
All rights reserved.