The Charles Burton Blues Band
From San Diego to Los Angeles or Honolulu to Tokyo, the Charles Burton Band has covered it all. Labeled as San Diego's World Blues Ambassador, Charles Burton has played blues, country, rock, and roots music for forty years plus. Born in Los Angeles in 1958, he started playing guitar at the age of six playing in country bands in the 1970s. In the 1980s he played in Honolulu, Tokyo in the 1990s, and most recently in Fresno California. In 1995 he was a headliner along with Hosea Leavy at the Fresno Blues Festival. More recently, in 2009, he won San Diego's International Blues Challenge finals. 2009 was a good year for Charles as he also took first place in San Diego's King of the Blues competition. He sites his influences as legends like Johnny Winter, Eric Clapton, Albert King, Freddie King, and B.B. King. One strong influence that he points out, was the exposure to music from foreign cultures, such as Japan, Thailand, and the Persian Gulf during his military career. Reviewing his own work, he makes the statement "I draw my influences from all forms, types, styles, genres, and concepts of music."
He compares his own vocals to Johnny Winter, the "growl-master" himself, which is a fair assessment after listening to Sweet Potato Pie. He describes his blues as "heavy on guitar, smooth vocals, and barbecue grease." His fifth album Sweet Potato Pie is a collection of 13 lively, self penned blues tunes. He opens with "Shake It," a tune where he unloads with vigor and passion, rocking the house with his high energy guitar. With the dynamic guitar solos and the powerful harmonica of Karl Cabbage, it sets the tone for the whole album. He follows up with the steady drivin' shuffle "Double Up" and the tasty road house number "Drivin' Home," featuring Chill Boy on shared vocals and lead guitar. Burton really shifts gears on the instrumental "New York Jump," a jump blues-rockabilly-jazz flavored tune that would raise the eyebrows of Brian Setzer. Pack your bags for Beale Street and a road trip to the IBC as you head down highway 55 "Goin' To Memphis." Burton leads into a series of fiery guitar solos as he bends notes with ease throughout the powerful instrumental "Crackdown." The ballad "Livin' Without You" starts out as a slow, soulful tune with long piercing guitar solos combined with Burton's vocals. The title track "Sweet Potato Pie" gives you that New Orleans beat with a slice of slide guitar delivered by Charles Burton. "New Boogie" combines Slim Harpo's "Hip Shake" with John Lee Hooker's "Boogie Chillen'" to create a superb tune bound to please all blues fans. "Used To Love That Woman" brings back the talented Karl Cabbage on harmonica, blended with the versatile guitar solos of Burton. You are sure to enjoy the shuffle "Brown Paper Bag" and the slide guitar solos of Charles Burton. "Your Number" adds that West Coast sound paralleled to the blues group The 44s. The Charles Burton Band completes the album with a backstreet alley jazz tune "Drop A Dime."
After listening to Sweet Potato Pie, I think you will agree that The Charles Burton Band is one of the best West Coast blues bands performing today. This is the type of band you could assume would deliver a stellar live performance!
Reviewed by Rick Davis