10 tracks – total time 61:49
West Side Chicago native Omar Coleman chose the domain of the Legendary Rosa’s Lounge for this comfy live effort. Omar and his supporting band have played this venue many, many times. They are a tight knit aggregation. Consequently, the listening experience here is like being in Omar’s living room. Coleman’s cohorts include Pete Galanis, guitar, Neal O’Hara, keyboards, Dave Forte, bass, (tracks 1-5), Ari Seder, bass, (tracks 6-10) and Marty Binder, drums. As Coleman declares while repeatedly exhorting the house between songs, “One time for the band!” It’s a mojo mantra.
Coleman selects songs of Chicago legend Jr. Wells to open and close the album. “Snatch It Back And Hold It,” is culled from perhaps Wells’ most prolific album Hoodoo Man Blues. At the tail end of the song it segues into “Wall To Wall,” the Johnny Taylor hit from days past. With lyrics like, they did the one two, they did the crawl, wound up doin’ the gator…, it’s easy to envision that if Chicago was the bayou, the dance floor at Rosa’s lounge was covered that night with a funky dose of alligator lubricant. They got down! The closer, ” Two Headed Woman,” (written by Willie Dixon) is culled from Jr. Well’s Chief Records sessions. That being said, one understands why Omar Coleman is on has been quoted as saying Jr. Wells is his favorite Soul/Blues inspiration.
Other standout tracks include track 3 “Born & Raised,” (the title track to his prior release) stretched to seven minutes in this setting. Track 6 “Raspberry Wine,” is a ditty in which the joy and pain of imbibing homegrown, fermented West Side Chicago berries is put to song. The stirring, heartfelt track 8 “One Request,” presents an opportunity for the band to slow the pace down after seven frenetic uptempo tunes. The band amps it up again on track 9, their cover of Rufus Thomas’s “Give Me The Green Light.
At the beginning of track 9, “Give Me The Green Light,” Coleman declares, “As you can guess, we like our Blues with a dose of Funk, Soul and all kinds of other stuff.” Certainly adding to the funk portion of the mix are the greasy licks of keyboardist Neal O’Hara. Similarly, the rhythm and lead licks of Jim Galanis provide additional traction on this project. Witness the steady rise of Omar Coleman. Another essential link to the future of Chicago Blues.