The Blue Rider Trio

Harp, Steel And Guts

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Mix in a few measures of folk country blues with Georgia red clay with an occasional rock rhythm and you have the Blue Rider Trio's first album in nine years. They have come a long way, showing greater confidence and ease with the music. They're tough when they have to be, and tender, too. The program is a conglomerate of traditional tunes mixed in with original material. All of them are handled by the rough, down-to-earth voice of Ben Andrews. He also employs a mournful howl from time to time for emphasis. The traditional material is delivered with imagination and given new character. Don't think of Ray Charles as you listen to Andrews do "See See Rider." The version here has an almost Western country gait to it rather than the mournful blues feeling often heard with this tune. A favorite of New Orleans jazz musicians, "Make Me a Down Pallett" takes on a different meaning when done with that good old country boy feel to it. There can be a lot of fun in the blues, which seems to be a contradiction in terms. But the bouncy "Diddy Wa Diddy" is just that -- a good time. There seems to be stronger story telling ingredients than in the traditional blues as in Andrews' vocal recitation of the downfall of the mean "Stagolee." The entire proceeding is bounded by Andrews' hard-sounding steel guitar and Mark Wenner's crying harmonica weaving in, out, and around the melody. English piano player Larry Willis sits in with the group for three cuts. His piano takes the edge off some of the trio's roughness. Eight years is a long time to wait for a second album. But here the hanging in there was worth it. Recommended.

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