SoulOSound Records SORCD103
10 songs – 41 minutes
Based in Nashville, Markey Blue burst upon the blues scene with the release of their debut CD, Hey Hey, two years ago and quickly established themselves as a force to be reckoned with, delivering a soulful brand of blues that’s part Chicago, part Memphis and all the way blue, and earning several honors, including a nomination last year as Best New Artist in the Blues Blast Awards.
Formed by veteran guitarist Ric Latina, who’s toured with Waylon Jennings, Clint Black and Gary Puckett and been a first-call studio musician, and vocalist Jeannette Markey, a former Las Vegas showgirl, actress and stand-up comedienne who’s worked with Taj Mahal, Delbert McClinton, Anson Funderburgh and Bobby “Blue” Bland, the duo met by chance when both were backing other artists and were booked on to the same show.
What started as a songwriting project quickly evolved into much, much more. Three of the songs on this CD have been picked up for TV placement, and another for the movies. They reached the semi-finals of this year’s International Blues Challenge in Memphis, winning over fans and judges alike with their high-energy stage show. And they’ve been tabbed for consideration for another Blues Blast Award, this time in the Sean Costello Rising Star category.
Latina is a smooth, adept guitarist who delivers crisp, clean runs as a perfect bandleader for Markey, whose Southern-tinged vocals are a match for her statuesque brunette beauty, both sweet and sultry at the same time. They’re backed by a who’s who of Nashville talent, including Chris Tuttle and Mike Maiocco on keys, Truman Virden, Randy Coleman and John Marcus on bass, Dion Clay, David “Smitty” Smith, Tom Larson, Rodney Ledbetter and Jim Klingler on drums and percussion and a horn section that includes Dana Robbins on sax and Jim Williamson and Scott Ducaj on trumpet.
Dedicated to the memory of Randy Chortkoff, the late founder of Delta Groove Records, who gave them their first break, the album features nothing but original material both co-written and produced by Markey and Ric. It’s well-paced music that’s guaranteed to get your toes tapping and your feet on the dance floor.
Don’t be fooled by his Hill Country-flavored slide guitar intro to “I’ll Wait For You” into thinking this CD is directed at a country audience. It’s a departure from what you’ll hear going forward, and evolves quickly into something that true blues fans will adore, guaranteed to get your toes tapping and your feet out on the dance floor. Eventually a fast shuffle, it features as Markey, who uses her last name as a showbiz moniker, pleading for her man to hold on to her until morning night. She drives the rhythm forward by accompanying the percussion on tambourine.
The pace speeds ups a little for “That Ain’t Good Enough,” with Latina driving the beat with a single-note guitar hook as Markey demands that her man become more than a part-time lover, insisting that his reluctance is tearing her apart. Like lipstick on a collar, she feels washed out again. The beat gets funky for the medium paced shuffle “Cold Outside,” in which Markey relates hanging around in the chill, waiting for her man to come home. The horns feature prominently behind the vocals with Ric delivering a solid mid-tune solo.
Delivered atop a walking blues beat, “Cash Is Always King” claims that it doesn’t matter what you have in life, it’s always better to have money. The title tune, “The Blues Are Knockin’,” follows. It’s a slow-blues burner that wonders if an ex-lover ever thinks about the singer in the dead of night. She still cares for him more than he’ll ever know. Two tributes to lost blues superstars follow. Dedicated to Little Milton Campbell, “Be My Train” is a love song while “Lay Down Lucille” is a tip-of-the-hat to B.B. King with Latina and the horns in commands as Markey delivers an ode to his guitar, noting: “Don’t you worry about your daddy/In our hearts he’ll always stay.”
Markey recounts lessons she’s learned in life in “Nobody’s Fool” before she launches into another song of separation in “Me Missing You.” The album closes on the slow blues, “Worries,” which tells the listener not to cry any tears even though she’s lost her man because she’s dealing with many other, more important problems to face.
Available through CDBaby, iTunes or Google Play, The Blues Are Knockin’delivers a strong dose of original, modern blues and, like the band’s first release, proves once again that Markey Blue is a band on the rise. Strongly recommended.