The Andy T Nick Nixon Band has pretty much taken the blues world by storm. This is their third release on a major label. It was nominated for both a Blues Blast and a Blues Music Award for Best Traditional Album. Blending the incredible talents of Memphis performer and music educator Nick Nixon and the acclaimed guitar player “Andy T” Talamantez who was Southern California born and raised, this is a superb album and I think it is their best yet. Anson Funderburgh has produced another gem in this CD and he and the band are (and should be) proud of their superb efforts!
The primary band is Nick on vocals, Andy T on guitar, Larry Van Loon on B3 and piano, Jim Klinger on drums, and Sam Persons on bass. The keys and backline are long-standing stalwarts in the band. Guests include Anson Funderburgh (guitar), Kim Wilson (harp), Christian Dozier (piano and accordion), Zeke Jarmon (rubboard), and the Texas Horns (Kaz Kazanov on tenor sax, Al Gomez on trumpet and John Mills on baritone sax). The last track features an assortment of other guests. 10 originals and 4 covers are the mix here.
The CD opens with “Shut the Front Door,” a jumping cut where Nick bemoans his baby leaving him and Anson and Andy T respond to him with some heavy duty, driving guitar work. Anson begins with the lead and a killer guitar solo and then Andy takes the solo and lead. Support by van Loon with some boogie woogie piano and savory B3 really fills out this track, a great opening for this album. “Devil’s Wife” is a song about a woman who, based on the title alone, must be quite “special.” The mid tempo shuffle is very danceable. Great guitar, keys and a heavy dose of horns make this one a winner. “Deep Blue Sea” is a down tempo swing tune with the horns heavily involved in the groove. Nixon paces out the vocals well and the horns do a sort of response to his calls. Andy’s tasteful solo is followed by an equally tasteful B-3 solo. I could envision Cab Calloway singing this to a wild response! “Tall Drink of Water” starts with a bit of a Cajun sound as Dozzler’s accordion sets the tone and pace for this song. Andy T comes in with a short, stinging guitar solo and then it’s back to the bayou for some more two stepping fun. The title track is an ode to a man who has connections and helps regular folks get things done that may or may not be done within the law. This is some nice slower blues with Andy showing us his stuff and the B-3 and horns filling in nicely.
“Pretty Girls Everywhere” is a bopping cut with piano, horns and guitar sweetly supplementing Nixon’s vocals. Andy’s solo is rocking and then Kaz comes in for his solo and does a great job tanking us out. “Blue Monday” is a dirty and low-down slow blues where Andy and Nick give us an outstanding effort. Dozzler play some pretty piano in here, too, but it’s Nick’s testifying that is the key to this one. Andy’s long solo is sweet. Van Loon dodges in and out on the B-3 to make things even more soulful. “Hightailin’” is a guitar based instrumental that Andy excels at. The B-3 support is quite tasteful and well done; the backline beat is also rock steady. On “Sundown Blues” Wilson appears on harp and he and Nixon are at ease trading off the lead. Traditional, straight up blues here; well done! Kim is on fire for his solos and Nick stays right up there with him the rest of the way. “Tell Me What’s The Reason” is a swinging cut that jumps, jives and wails as Nixon bounces through the lead. Andy come in for a bouncy solo and then it’s time for a long instrumental barrage. Great horn work and keys once again!
Anson returns for a solo and some work on “Be Somebody Someday” which is stellar stuff. The baritone horn is a standout, too. “What Went Wrong” has Dozzier returning on the squeeze box and Jarmon doing some cool percussive stuff as Nixon testifies and asks about a relation gone bad. The old Gatemouth Brown tune “Gate’s Salty Blues” offers more great guitar work and horns. Nixon growls out the vocal lead while Andy T blasts out the guitar solo; Nixon closes resolute in finding a new woman and then Andy takes us out on the back of his guitar. Things rap up with “This World We Live In,” a soulful blues ballad. Social commentary about the sad state of affairs is the theme, but Nixon offers hope in stating love is the answer. A great cut to close out a great album! The solos on the B-3 by Kevin McKendree are fabulous. Steve F’dor on piano is solid and the backline of Denise Fraser on drums and Rick Reed on bass is also quite good. Andy’s guitar is poignant and beautiful as he paints a backdrop of our desperate times with his strings.
This is one of the finest albums of the past year. It needs a spot in any blues lover’s collection!