Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Little Elmore Reed Blues Band

"Honey, you've got to get out more", is what the white hair matron says to those that she feels needs a casino fix. I don't do casinos, but she's on the money when it comes to me needing to get out there and listening to some "live" blues. That way I'd probably already have been over to Austin to hear The Little Elmore Reed Band.

No, there is no Elmore Reed in the band, just a conglomerate of some of the finest musicians playing some of the finest blues. To be honest, the reason I bought this release was because I thought that Greg Izor was blowing some of his deep toned magic on blues harp, because my research told me that he played with these cats around Austin. I reviewed Greg's debut CD on the blog here and then caught what he can do live at Sonny Boy Terry's Harp Fest last summer. Impressed I was.

Greg doesn't blow here, but Dale Spalding opens the disc, blowing like hell on a tune credited to guitarist Willie Pipkin called, "The G.P. Blues", and I'm assuming that it is a tribute to the legendary harp man, Gary Primich and is a kick butt instrumental. See, I've never heard of Dale Spalding, but since the disc cover indicates a man of my advance tenure in the world, I'd say that he's been on the blues scene quite some time; especially since his technique on the blues harp is fat backed and stone solid of tone. He immediately jumps into Sam Myers' "My Love Is Here to Stay" next with chops that'd make old Sam rise up and smile. Not sure who's impressive vocals carry the tune, because Pipkin, Spalding, and Mike Keller are all listed as vocalist and individual songs aren't credited. I'm voting for Spalding since it is a harp centric song and I've heard the other two sing before. Same with "I Can Tell". Deep toned harp thrown down there too. The man can play and sing (if it's his voice). I gotta get out more.

I mentioned on the Izor review that I'd seen Willie Pipkin play with the South Texas Jug Band at Conroe's Crighton Theatre a few years back, and even though they are far from being a blues band, they played some bluesy stuff a time or two and Pipkin's blues bending was substantial, as it was in support of Izor. As on the Izor disc, he works in tandem with blues guitar wizard, Mike Keller, which is another reason I bought this. Keller, who hits the road with The Fabulous Thunderbirds, has been one of my favorite blues guitarist for quite awhile. Those two guys bounce guitar licks off each other like Chinese ping pong artists. Don't know who is doing the reverb drenched pulls on "I Can Tell", but they're slaying it. The ripping leads on "Young Girl" is most likely Keller, since it's his song, but then again he may be deferring to Pipkin, since he's singing the rocking' tune.

"It's Wrong" is a Louisiana swamper by Earl King and Spalding pulls out some of his nastiest, dirtiest licks before giving way to low down string bending by one of those guys. Since these guys don't care if I know who's doing the singing and I guess it doesn't matter, but I'll guess Pipkin.

Guessing Pipkin on "School Girl", which is driven by drummer and bass man, Mark Hays and J.P. Whitefield respectively....and drive it they do. Spalding shines once more on the mouth harp with some nice bends on his runs. And someone nails the hell out of Muddy's slide guitar on "Country Boy", which, of course is tailored made for the harp man to get down with it.

The one song credited to Spalding is "You're The One", which convinces me that he sang on the early couple of the songs. He's got a solid voice for the blues and this shuffle is once again driven by the rhythm section, especially the cymbal crashes thrown out by Hays. The band turns Spalding loose on his harp and one of the string slingers picks it up and rips a whole through the tune.

I know that Keller is singing on his rollicking "Hey Little Girl" because I heard him sing it on one of Primich's shows and Spalding gets some mighty fine octave work going on, then Keller plays lights out on his Telecaster. I think.

Billy Boy Arnold's "Kissing At Midnight" gives Spalding an excuse to showcase his acoustic harp tone, which proves might fine and tasty chicken picking. It's a stripped down jaunt with an incessant groove provided my someone's one chord acoustic guitar plucking

Hell yeah, I need to get out more. I love these guys and now I know more about Dale Spalding. What I don't know is whether or not he's a mainstay with The Little Elmore Reed Blues Band, because I keep up with Greg Izor and do know that he plays live with them frequently. They seem to have a rotating crew, anchor by Whitefield and Hays, but what do I know. I don't get out enough. 'Nuff for now.


Mark Hays said...

I just discovered your blog, thanks for the kind words about our CD. Mike Keller sings on "My Love Is Here To Stay", "Young Girl", "It's Wrong", "Schoolgirl", "Country Boy" and "Hey Little Girl". Dale Spalding sings on all the rest and Mike and Dale share "Tick Tock". That's Keller's slide on "Country Boy". Dale works in Canned Heat and moved back to New Orleans last year. Izor filled in for Dale a lot during our time at TC's Lounge and still plays with the band whenever we can get him. We still play every Monday, for the past year at The Legendary White Swan Club on the east side.

Ricky Bush said...

Hey Mark, thanks for stopping by and clueing me into who's doing what on the CD. Easy to say kind words when y'all play the kind of blues that you do--grooving and greasy. If I EVER get to Austin on a Monday, I'll dang sure show up at the gig.