DAS Entertainment/Ardent Audio Productions
CD: 12 Songs; 56:45 Minutes
Styles: Ensemble Blues, Contemporary Electric Blues and Blues Rock
Deep down, what is the blues all about? Some people believe that this genre is a sad one, meant to move people to tears. It’s true some of the most common themes are heartbreak, deprivation, and irritation. Blues are meant for catharsis – an emotional release, though not necessarily one in the vein of weepy romance dramas. San Jose, California’s Dennis Herrera Blues Band is Livin’ Life Not Worryin’, and in this reviewer’s opinion, the cathartic nature of the blues is the reason why. On twelve dynamite original tracks, Herrera and several outstanding guest stars give their all to the “Hakuna Matata” (“No worries”) sentiment that they express.
Performing alongside Dennis Herrera, as he tackles vocals and guitar, are the regular members of his band: harpist Dennis Depoitre; drummer Lee Campbell; bassist Hank Van Sickle; Rich Wenzel on piano, organ and Wurlitzer, and guitarists Alan Maggini and Bill Bates. Joining them as magnificent musical guests are guitarists Anson Funderburgh, Tommy Castro, Igor Prado, and Jeffrey Paul Ross; vocalist the late Lynwood Slim, and bassist Dan McCann.
Dennis Herrera’s vocals verge on talk-singing on several songs, but that’s a minor issue. The band’s promotional info sheet states that their style is “an excitingly provocative fusion of Texas, Chicago, California howlin’, shufflin’, muddy rockin’, raw blues.” Purists should read that product description twice, and then decide if they will find that mixture of musical flavors appetizing. For those who prefer a blues smorgasbord over particular entrées, Livin’ Life Not Worryin’ will be a tasty treat.
These three numbers are the top “orders” on the twelve-selection menu of the CD:
Track 03: “Damn Uncle Sam!” – There are two universal truths about taxes: 1) They’re as certain as death and 2) Everybody hates paying them. “You know I jump, and yes, I holler, but it makes no difference if I still ain’t got a dollar. I say, that damn Uncle Sam left me nothing again.” This Chicago-style number minces no (swear) words. Neither does Dennis Depoitre on a harmonica hotter than New Orleans’ Augusts.
Track 06: “Slim Baby Slim” – Being healthy is no cake walk, as this brilliant boogie proves: “If you want to get slim, you’d better listen to me. Eat a whole lot less; make it sugar-free. Looking like a mess for too many years, sucking down the pops and drinking all of those beers.” Naturally, Lynwood Slim performs lead vocals – one of his last, Jeffrey Ross nails his guitar solo, and Rich Wenzel plays a savory barroom piano.
Track 10: “Somethin’ I Read” – Another fitting title for track ten would be, “Facebook’s Done It Again”. Social media junkies know the drill: They read a comment, and it gets stuck in their craw for the rest of the day. As for Dennis? “It don’t worry me. I don’t care. It’s just a passing thing: Facebook’s done it again.” Shuffle your computer over to the nearest “Recycle Bin”.
Dennis Herrera and his posse are Livin’ Life Not Worryin’, in order to encourage all of us!