Thursday, December 27, 2012

BamFest Volume II reviewed by Steve Jones

BamFest Volume II
Various Artists
Self Released
11 tracks

This BamFest album commemorates the second BamFest event in Wisconsin. Only available from itunes or CD Baby as a download, the proceeds from the album go to Gulf Relief efforts.

The album kicks off with “Get Your Blues On” and Larry McCray’s infectious guitar style and vocals are a fantastic way to start off this sampler. The funky twang of his guitar and soulful voice are well represented here. “I Know the Reason” features Birddog and Friends. The song features a driving groove and beautiful harp over blows that are just fantastic. Chris Duarte is next and he sets the place en fuego with his “Let’s Have a Party.” The beat is 100 mph and the guitar is aflame in a whirlwind of fire and rocking blues.

Eric Sardinas and Big Motor follow and the track chosen for this live album here is “Worried Blues.” Instead of a huge electric sound we are served up a dobro slide piece with Sardinas growling out the lyrics. He then transitions into the song’s bridge which is in an electrical storm of sound. But then he returns to acoustic and it is just impressive stuff. The evening crowd is quiet behind him, obviously impressed by his per-formance. “Holdin’ Ground” is next. I’ve joked that Bobby Messano is the best guitar player no one has heard of. This guitar star gives it up in this huge guitar piece where Messano demonstrates his craft as few can, the title track from his 2003 album. Beautiful stuff! Wayne Baker Brooks is offered up with “Sooner Or Later,” a great original from his Mystery album. It is a driving, hot tune where Baker shows what he has learned from his musical family.

Sonny Landreth plays “Blue Tarp Blues,” a song about Hurricane Katrina, and “Back to Bayou Teche,” the 125-mile waterway that was an original path of the Mississippi River. The former is a social and political state-ment, the latter a love song asking his chere to pass by the Bayou Teche. Landreth is at his best in these songs, showing off his six string prowess where he can be dark and ominous or light and frivolous. Robben Ford is next in “Lateral Climb” where he shows off his guitar and restraint. This is great show-case of Ford with plenty of air between his notes and superb tone.

Closing things out on the album Is Jeremy Spencer. “Bitter Lemon” is a down tempo piece where this former “Fleetwood Mac” star picks out a soulful sound with individual notes fluttering about like a butterfly. He and the pianist trade off from time to time, tinkling and trickling off notes and riffs together. He and the album close with “Psychic Waste,” another great slide piece where he and the harp player trade off solos nicely.

Great stuff, highly recommended whether you were there or not–this is a great album for a great cause!

Reviewed by Steve Jones

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