12 songs time-36:08
Illinois native Dan Phelps is helping to keep the tradition of acoustic Delta blues alive with his excellent renditions and mastery of finger-picked and slide guitar. the thumping bass strings give his interpretations a unique energy. His warm, deep and rich voice is the type more commonly associated with country music. His renditions of iconic blues songs from the blues cannon are tweaked to fit Dan’s style by slowing or speeding up the tempo and/or the occasional reconstructing of the lyrics. The only additional instrumentation is the use of drums on two of the selections.
Drummer CJ Vanderpoll leads into Charley Patton’s “Banty Rooster” with a military-like cadence on his snare drum. As the song progresses bass drum is added to the mix. The drumming superbly compliments the deft slide guitar playing. Dan’s deep “pipes” fit like a glove on Skip James’ “”Crow Jane”, the first of two by Skip. His “Devil Got My Woman” follows, taken at a slow and deliberate pace.
Dan thumps and plunks on his guitar for all he is worth breathing new life into Sleepy John Estes’ “Drop Down Mama”. Charley Patton’s “Screamin’ And Hollerin’ The Blues” just zips on by. One song from the semi-obscure William Moore, “One Way Gal”, let’s Dan’s finger-picking shine as his comforting voice does what it does. The slide guitar is once again broken out for the atmospheric take on Muddy waters’ “I Feel Like Going Home” which pretty much serves as the title song. He drags out the words to emphasize the sentiments of the song.
Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup’s “Mean Ol’ Frisco” resonates with me as I had the pleasure and privilege to see him as Bonnie Raitt graciously brought him on tour as her opening act. “It Hurts Me Too” by Tampa Red also holds a special place in my ol’ blues heart.
Blind Blake’s “Chump Man Blues” skips along quite nicely, thank you very much. Drums show up once again accentuating Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “61 Highway”, as the slide guitar plays in unison with the vocal.
Big Bill Broonzy’s old chestnut “Key To The Highway”a song most often done up in electric versions, closes out the program.
After witnessing what Dan Phelps can conjure up with blues cover tunes, I look forward to hearing what he is capable of with songs of his own. His renditions aren’t “run of the mill”, he delivers with an original spin and authority.