Musicians: Frank Bang & the Secret Stash

Publisher: Blue Hoss Records – Release Date: May 21, 2013

ASIN: B00CW56852

When the hot, buzzing slide licks of the opening title track of Frank Bang's fifth album kick in, one can be forgiven for thinking they're sitting front and center at a Johnny Winter concert. But this isn't the older Winter brother. Rather, Frank ‘Bang’ Blinkal, master of the guitar, lap steel, dobro, and rough, soulful vocals is a presence all his own.

Still, Bang is an obvious continuation of the classic Chicago blues tradition. He can claim meeting Stevie Ray Vaughn who advised the then aspiring musician to check out Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Albert Collins, and the rest of the Windy City blues brethren. Bang then not only got a job at Guy's legendary "Legends" club, he began jamming there before joining Guy's touring band. Bang accompanied Guy on five international tours, appeared with him on various television programs, and then went on his own distinctive path.

Now, Bang is part of the modern blues generation able to draw from a deep musical well but also generate his own original autobiographical stories. Drawing from his rich life experience and tutelage, he can show off his six-string virtuosity and share the blues of a 21st century vintage. To deliver his blues, he has a tight supporting ensemble he calls the Secret Stash including Bobby Spelbring (drums), Ryan Fitzgerald (bass), and occasional players Russ Green ( harmonica), Phil Miller (rhythm and slide guitar), Drew Pentkowski (slide guitar), and Daryl Coutts (B3 organ).

On his newest release, things start off with energy and fire on "Double Dare," "Burnin' Up In the Wind," and "Lose Control." But not everything is blistering urban blues. Much of the latter half of the album is very country/blues indeed with various ballads all about simple living and a homespun love life as in “This Is What It's All About,” "Mattie’s Girl,” and the love song that

inspired this album, "Wonder Woman." Speaking of country, you don't get much more Nashville than "18 Wheels of Hell" in which a haunted truck driver is chased by a devil rig. Even more country—and western—is “My Own Country Way” where Bang channels Hank Williams and gets some good ole honky tonk musical advice.

It's been six years since Bang's last CD, And They Named It Rock and Roll, and Bang says those six years are recounted truthfully on Double Dare. I don't doubt it. The album is on the uneven side, as is life, and some stories are going to resonate differently with listeners. It's worth hearing them all to know which of these blues you share. One thing is for sure—one play won't be enough. "Double Dare," on its own, will end up in many a fan's iPod. And that's just for starters . . .

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