Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tail Dragger Live At Rooster's Lounge reviewed by Harmonica Joe

Tail Dragger Live At Rooster's Lounge
l Dragger
Delmark Records
DVD - 12 tracks/75 min.
CD - 11 tracks/68:21

"Tail Dragger Live At Rooster's Lounge" is Delmark Record's latest release on both DVD and CD. These live recordings at a real blues bar are a great way to present and preserve the real tradition of blue music and the blues artist. Delmark does a fine job doing this. This is Tail Dragger's second recording for Delmark.

Tail Dragger is a great choice for a live recording on DVD. Tail Dragger was born James Yancey Jones in 1940 in Arkansas. He was influenced by the likes of Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson and Jimmy Reed. He main mentor was none other than Howlin' Wolf. Tail Dragger got his stage mame because he had a habit of being late to the gig most of the time. He was also known as Crawlin' James because he would do some crawling on the floor during some of his shows. He does work the audience. After Howlin' Wolf's passing Tail Dragger hooked up with Hubert Sumlin. The two of them played together for some time in the West Side Chicago blues clubs.

We are treated to fine band on Tail Dragger's recording, "Live At Rooster's Lounge". On stage with him is a full blues band with two awesome guitarists, a great harmonica player a hard hitting drummer and a real solid bass player. Add Tail Dragger's gritty, growling, low down vocals to the mix and we are on the road to a fine show. His timing is just outstanding as you watch him on stage.

On guitar we have Rockin' Johnny Burgin, who has been with Tail Dragger for a long time, good or bad. He is an outstanding guitarist with his own tone and style. He is a great compliment to Tail Dragger's vocals. Also on guitar is Kevin Shanahan, a regular member of the Tail Dragger Band. Beside his fine rhythm playing he lays done an awesome solo.

Martin Lang has been the harmonica player for Tail Dragger for a long time. Lang brings the old school dirty harp playing to the mix. His tone is outstanding, his timing is right on and he just flows with each tone that he plays. This is good stuff f you are a harp fan. With the addition of Todd Fackler on drums and Rob Lorenz on bass driving the band we have a quality blues machine going down the blues highway!

Tail Dragger, James Yancey Jones, is a very talented song writer, having written five of the tunes on this recording. "Be Careful", penned by Tail Dragger, is a fine example of his talent to write tunes. This slow blues tune also has an awesome guitar solo by Rockin' Johnny. Johnny looks a lot more relaxed and like he is enjoying the moment now then as I remember him years ago. This is all good to me. Martin Lang's harp playing also really stands out on this track. "You better be careful or someone else will tell on you to' tells the story of this tune. It is too bad that this tune is only on the DVD.

On "Wander", another Tail dragger tune, we are treated to the fine guitar style of guest Jimmy Dawkins. Dawkins has a rich deep tone and great blues licks in his guitar playing. He truly plays the blues. His interaction with Rockin' Johnny's guitar is good on this track. On the DVD version of "Wander” we see Tail Dragger working the audience with his gyrations and awesome vocals.

There is not a track on the recording, "Tail Dragger Live At Rooster's Lounge” that I do not care for. "Louise", a Chester Burnett tune, and "Blues With A Feeling", a Walter Jacobs tune, both stand out on this DVD - CD. Delmark Records has done another fine job with "Tail Dragger Live At Rooster's Lounge". I must say, for me, the DVD is the way to go with this recording. The CD is a great recording, but the commentary by Tail Dragger on the DVD is worth the price of the whole recording. Watching Tail Dragger strut his stuff, work the audience, pump up the band and present his vocals to us is one great blues show. It is really good to see Rockin' Johnny back playing the blues.

Thanks again to Delmark Records and Bob Koester for presenting and preserving the blues as it should be. A special note to my friend, Kevin Johnson of Delmark Records, just for seeing him in the audience enjoying the blues show at Rooster's Lounge.

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