In this edition of Get The Blues, Kevin Wierzbicki tells us about new releases from Eric Bibb (Jericho Road), Sheba (Butter on My Rolls), Bryan Lee (Play One For Me) and Sean Chambers (The Rock House Sessions).
The title of Bibb's latest album refers to the road between Jerusalem and Jericho, the place where the Biblical story of the Good Samaritan took place. The album's overall theme is man's search for righteousness and salvation in a world full of obstacles and injustices and many songs, like set opener "Drinkin' Gourd," have a historical component to them. "Drinkin' Gourd" is an old folk song referring to how, in the days of slavery in America, those involved with the Underground Railroad would weave coded messages into the lyrics of simple songs. Bibb's cover is one of the album's stand-outs, perfectly channeling the danger of traveling the Underground Railroad as he repeats the line "Follow the drinkin' gourd
" Bibb co-wrote most of the songs here with his pianist Glen Scott and you don't have to be interested in the message to enjoy the folk-meets-funk anti-war tune "Let the Mothers Step Up," the Dr. John-ish "Have a Heart" or the subdued blues of "Death Row Blues." Singers Cyndee Peters and Ruthie Foster and the four-piece Sessions Horns Sweden are among the guests on this stellar outing.
Butter on My Rolls
Affectionately known as The Mississippi Queen, Martha Booker (aka Sheba) came from a family of sharecroppers and sang gospel songs in church and blues in the cotton field, eventually getting turned on to acts like Koko Taylor, B.B. King and Etta James. All these decades later not only can she wail the blues with the best of them but she can write 'em too; stand-outs here include self-penned numbers like the swinging "Dance Jump," the I-gotta-find-a-good-man lament of "Real Good Woman" and the jumpin' boogie of "Oh So Good" where slide guitarist Chuck Juntzman gets to strut his stuff. A couple of quiet moments here ("Can't Help Lovin' My Man," "Blues of My Soul") but for the most part Sheba is upbeat and rockin' throughout.
Play One For Me
Fans of B.B. King will notice that Lee often phrases his vocals like the Blues Boy and on a cover of Freddie King's "It's Too Bad (Things Are Going So Tough)" he plays like him too. But half of the record is self-penned and highlighted by tunes like the autobiographical and '70s funk-tinged "Sixty-Eight Years Young" and the slow and rhythmic New Orleans blues funk of "Poison" where Kim Wilson (Fabulous Thunderbirds) lays on some serious gris gris with his harp. Guitarist Johnny Moeller, also of the Fab T-birds, is among the more than dozen sidemen appearing on this very solid set.
The Rock House Sessions
Chambers has certainly earned his blues cred; for five years he was the guitarist and band leader behind the late Chicago blues legend Hubert Sumlin, himself a longtime member of Howlin' Wolf's band. Here Chambers hops up the Chicago blues on "World on Fire," boogies like ZZ Top on "Since I've Been Down" and waxes Stones-ish on "Healing Ground." Clearly Chambers learned a long time ago that there are no limitations on the blues; this album rocks pretty hard but never loses its blues roots, making it a winner for both blues aficionados and fans of old-school blues rock.