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Musician: Rob Stone
Audio CD (September 9, 2014)
Label: Vizz Tone
There's certainly no shortage of contemporary blues players so schooled in the post-World War II Chicago Chess scene that they do their level best to recapture those seminal sounds as authentically as possible both live and on record. That's clearly the case with Award-winning Rob Stone on his new Gotta Keep Rollin.
It should be no surprise to learn singer Stone was hooked on the harp when the then 18 year old first heard harmonica master Charlie Musselwhite live in a Boston club. He bought his first harp the next day and dived into the records of Little Walter, Big Walter Horton, Junior Wells, James Cotton and the two Sonny Boys. After some tutelage from ex-Muddy Waters vet Jerry Portnoy, Stone began gigging with Sleepy LaBeef. He's been consistently gigging ever since.
In fact, for the past twenty years, Stone has been working collaboratively with the C-Notes, namely Guitarist Chris James and bassist Patrick Rynn. On Gotta Keep Rollin, the band's fourth album, the drum throne was given to another Chicago vet, Willie "the Touch" Hayes, Eddie Shaw added sax parts to several tracks, David Maxwell was indispensable on the piano, and guitarist John Primer is a featured guest. Each of these folks have worked with the C-Notes on previous recordings as well.
With these performers so intimately familiar with each other and the fact all are immersed in the same 60 year old tradition of downtown, house-rocking "sho-nuff" blues, it should again be no surprise that Stone's ensemble is a very tight congregation. Speaking of no surprises, every note of Gotta Keep Rollin should be recognizable for anyone who's heard any records of the Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Howlin' Wolf era. When the band is set on authenticity and all on board are more than capable of accomplishing this, you get exactly what is billed.
I've seen online sources labeling this upcoming release as "country." Uh, no, not by a long shot. From start to finish, this is good-time blues, nothing more and nothing less. With the exception of the instrumental "Strollin' with Sasquatch," the 12 tracks feature Stone delivering new lyrics to the standard patterns and shuffles produced as if the record was being taped in the original analog Chess studios.
And that's all you really need to know. If you like urban blues the way it was originally laid down, here you go. A good time should be had by all.
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