Big Mike & The Booty Papas

Red Hot Blues

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This band began playing together in Macon, GA, in 1995. However, their individual careers began in the '60s and '70s and span genres from country to southern rock to jazz. The musical maturity comes through loud and clear on Red Hot Blues, with seven originals and four covers. Front man Mike Ventimiglia (vocals, guitar) has a big voice similar to that of Colonel Bruce Hampton. The fragmented funk of Hampton's Aquarium Rescue Unit is recalled in a few spots too, especially on "Spreadin' the News." Red Hot Blues offers a little bit of everything, from the swing of "Black Drawers" to the soulful R&B of "Treadin' Water." They even serve up some acoustic slide on the strangely amusing "Rats-n-Roaches." One of the brightest spots on this release is the alto sax work of Ed Smith. His tone and attack are impressive; sweet yet strong. You really have to appreciate the dual leads he does with guitarist Chris Crider and the jazzy solo in the Hank Williams tune "You Win Again" -- one of the nicest songs on the album. Other standouts include the opener "Doggin' Me Around," which features some very smooth rhythm guitar and fills as well as the instrumental closer, "Slaw Dawg." Red Hot Blues is well-produced, with clean and perfectly balanced instrumentation. An all-around crowd pleaser!

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