Monday, July 22, 2013

Just For Today reviewed by Rick Davis

Just For Today
Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters
Stony Plain Records
13 Tracks

With every new album, Ronnie Earl continues to set the bar higher and higher, meeting and exceeding fan expectations with his soulful, emotional blues guitar style. On all of his albums, Ronnie’s instrumentals capture that intense style like no other blues artist that has performed both live and in the studio. His latest release Just for Today is no exception, showcasing his guitar style with almost a total concentration of instrumental tunes. Listening to his masterful guitar phrasing, it takes his listeners to another world, almost placing an audience in a hypnotic trans. His unique guitar style is an influence from so many blues artists that he has worked with over the years before he established his own band Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters in 1988.
This intense and deeply soulful instrumental guitar style was inspired by the blues legends like Muddy Waters, T-Bone Walker, Big Walter Horton, Freddie King, B.B. King, Otis Rush, and The Fabulous Thunderbirds. Along the way, he worked with such greats as Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton, Earl King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Allman Brothers, Sunnyland Slim, Koko Taylor, Jerry Portnoy, Earl King, Jimmy Rogers, Kim Wilson, Darrell Nulisch, Sugar Ray Norcia, and Jimmy Witherspoon as well as several of the musicians that inspired him early on. Early in his career, he performed with groups like Johnny Nicholas and the Rhythm Rockers, Sugar Ray and the Blue Tones, and the all-star line-ups that followed with Roomful Of Blues from 1979-1988. Ronnie continues to carry that torch from his influences in his music today.
Just for Today, is the seventh album for Ronnie Earl on the Stony Plain label and a follow up to widely acclaimed 2010 release, Spread the Love. The new CD is recorded live from The Regent Theatre in Arlington, The Natick Center for the Arts in Natick, and The Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, venues all located in his home state of Massachusetts. Celebrating Ronnie's 25th year as Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters are long-time Broadcasters’ members Lorne Entress on drums, Dave Limina on piano and Hammond B3, and Jim Mouradian on bass. Joining this veteran cast is singer Diane Blue as a special guest vocalist on the Bill Foster, Ellington Jordan tune "I'd Rather Go Blind" first recorded by Etta James in 1967. Also joining the band is Nicholas Tabarias on guitar, accompanying Ronnie on the tribute song to Otis Rush "Rush Hour" and the original tune "Jukein'." Ronnie pays tribute to other artists and mentors by honoring Hubert Sumlin with the original tune "Blues For Hubert Sumlin," Robert Nighthawk with another original "Robert Nighthawk Stomp," as well as the cover song "Equinox" as a tribute to John Coltrane. They open the show by rockin' the house with the original instrumental "The Big Train." Ronnie is so painfully soulful on the second instrumental "Blues For Celie," that he will pierce your heart with his passionate guitar solos. The band will rival any Carlos Santana instrumental with the tune "Miracle." "Heart Of Glass" is as smooth as glass and note for note one of the best he has performed. Dave Limina takes center stage with his opening piano solos on the original boogie woogie classic "Vernice's Boogie" and the Porter Grainger, Everett Robbins tune "Ain't Nobody's Business. Just for Today concludes with a stellar performance by the entire band on the Ronnie Earl tune "Pastorale."
This is as nearly perfect a soundboard recording as you will hear on any live or studio album. The soundboard team creates a center stage, front row seat for this series of live performances. Ronnie Earl seems to be at the height of his career with this collection of live recordings. It is my only hope there will be many more albums to follow. Just for Today will be hard to match.

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