Jet City Blues CD Review
Up One Side...Down The Other by the Crossroads Band
Blues Town Records - Available at all Crossroads Band gigs, or CDs can be purchased from the band by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
This CD, released by Seattle's Crossroads Band in 2009, is easily one of the best regonal recordings I have heard recently. The Crossroads Band features seasoned Seattle blues veterans Steve Bailey (harp, guitar, slide guitar, and vocals), Dan Newton (keyboards, guitar, lap steel guitar, and vocals), Dennis Ellis (tenor and baritone saxophones, and vocals), John "The Savage" Lee (bass and vocals), and David Hudson (drums and vocals). Did I mention that everyone sings? Pretty unusual for a local blues project, my friends.
There is lots of good stuff on this disk, including five cool originals mixed in with some carefully chosen covers. One of the unique things that you will hear here are the horn arrangements, which are usually played on harp and sax, but sometimes created by Dennis overdubbing tenor and baritone saxes (Dennis also plays the flute on some tunes at Crossroad band gigs). The tunes range from Roy Brown-style jump tunes ("Fannie Brown Got Married"), Chicago blues ("The Sun Is Shining," Stop Now"), New Orleans funk ("Something You Got," "Walk Your Blues Away"), to West Coast boogaloo ("Get Back"). The blues, the whole blues, and nothin' but the blues, baby!!
Here's my take on the tunes offered here:
"Fanny Brown Got Married" - A swinging Roy Brown tune with great vocals and gritty honking tenor sax by Dennis Ellis. Check out the overdubbed horn parts. Note to the Washington Blues Society members - Dennis was not nominated AGAIN this year for best horn - why, pray tell?!
"Up One side And Down The Other" - An original by Dan Newton. I'll call it a Texas-style boogie - whatever, this tune rocks! I wish the lap steel guitar was a little easier to hear, but check out the oddball bridge which builds up tension between verses.
"Who" - An original by Steve Bailey about a ne'er-do-well lover. Love this song! "...now who's gonna fix your broke down car/pick you up when you drunk down at the bar..." Indeed!
"Something You Got" - The classic New Orleans Chris Kenner tune, shouted with feeling by bassist John Lee. There's that horn section again, a funky bariton sax solo, and Nawlin's style piano by Mr. Newton. Waiter - gimme some red beans and rice!
"The Sun Is Shining" - A tribute to the late great Hound Dog Taylor, with vocals and slide guitar by Steve Bailey. Steve manages to find the appropriately destroyed-sounding slide guitar tone here. You gotta turn this one up.
"Get Back" - The Jimmy McCracklin tune about about problems that can be encountered at the nightclub. I dig Dennis Ellis' vocals, sax solo, and the harp/sax horn section on this one.
"Mixed Up Fool" - Another Bailey original. A real Chicago blues grinder - great harp playing on this one, from a true northwest original!
"My Baby" - A teen beat tune credited to Charlie Musselwhite. The cool vocals make it sound like a Don and Dewey tune to me (that's a good thing!).
"Walk Your Blues Away" - A good rockin' Professor Longhair tune with excellent piano by Dan Newton, vocals by Dennis Ellis, and great backup horns. OK, I'm ready for some jambalaya now.
"Stop Now" - Steve Bailey plays excellent Sonny Boy II style harp on this tune about impending doom associated with a love affair suddenly gone wrong.
"She Used To Be Mine" - Another Dan Newton original about a good love gone bad, very bad. I dig Steve and Dennis' harp/sax solos on this one.
"Why Do People Act Like That?" - The first time I heard this Bobby Charles tune was on Muddy Waters' "Woodstock" album. John Lee shouts this one again. They ought to play this one on Wall Street, methinks.
"Black Nights" - Nope, not Charles Brown - this is the Lowell Fulson tune. A cool example of West Coast R&B, check it out!
"Double-Eyed Whammy" - A great version ofthe Tommy Ridgley tune that sounds amazingly like "San-Ho-Zay" when you remove the lyrics. You can tell that Steve's been doing this one for a while.
"Big D Walks In" - A cool swinging instrumental that features Dennis Ellis on the sax, of course. This sounds like a long lost Johnnie Otis tune to me.
I see that this CD has been nominated for a Best Blues Recording by the Washington Blues Society. This is a fine recording created by long-time veterans of the seattle blues scene, and deserves to win this award. My vote is in, how about yours?