Monday, January 9, 2012

Nothin’ But Trouble reviewed by Steve Jones

Nothin’ But Trouble
Kathi McDonald & Rich Kirch
Tear Drop Records
9 tracks

What do you get when you take two veteran blues musicians, nine classic tacks, and a backline of two of Chicago’s best?   You get a great little CD that is a lot of fun!

Kathi has performed in some legendary bands and recordings, including being an Ikeette with Ike and Tina Turner’s Las Vegas shows, Leon Russell’s “Shelter Peole” recordings, The  Rolling Stones “Exile On Main Street” and replacing Janet Joplin in Big Brother and the Holding Company.  Rich toured with Jummy Dawkins and Jimmy Rogers while in Chicago, then moved out west and played with John Lee Hooker for 13 years.  They bring their decades of blues and music experience to the mix for this record.

Frank Bandy is on bass and Marty Binder is on drums.  This is one of the top backlines one can get in the Windy City, and then Brother John Kattke adds his great Chicago keyboard work to the mix.  This is a great accompaniment to Kathi and Rick and they are all solid throughout!

They open with “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” where Kathi screams and growls and Rich wails on his guitar; it is a moving performance. Elmore James’ “Talk to Me Baby” has McDonald in the stratosphere while Kirch is steady and firm on his axe work.  Up next is “Trouble” where the duo slows things down, but it is still hot stuff.  A wicked guitar solo opens up the cut and then McDonald gives it her all as the band burns through great slow blues.

Willie Dixon’s “Wang Dang Doodle” gets a nice, gritty cover, and then they lay into “Big Leg Woman” before Jimmy Reed’s classic “Baby What You Want Me Me To Do”.  These are some tracks that defined the Chicago blues scene and they do them justice here.  Kirch has spectacular tone and Kathi lays her soul out on vocals.

Ray Charles’ “What I Say” goes to a bluesier sound with McDonald and Kirch, nicely done, including the big guitar solo.  McDonald sings to “Shake that thing” and testifies here nicely, and then the last two cuts are movers and “shakers”, too: “Shake Your Money Maker” and “Shake your Hips” close the set. Hot stuff!

I recommend this for blues fans who want to hear things done in true Chicago style with electrically charged  female vocals.  Top notch guitar work is quite solid and impressive, too.  Go give this a listen!

Reviewed by Steve Jones

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