Self-Produced/Little Red Records
CD: 14 Songs, 44:17 Minutes
Styles: Traditional Electric Blues, Blues Covers
In this age of ultra-personal customization and “having it your way,” why are chain restaurants still so popular? Why visit Applebee’s or TGI Friday’s when there are family cafés, exotic ethnic eateries, and gourmet “fusion”-related places to try? Simple: When you’re tired and hungry from a long day on the road or at work, you want to know exactly what you’re getting. At chain franchises, your favorite meals taste familiar whether you’re in Maine or California. The sophomore album from Sacramento band Red’s Blues, You Knock Me Out, contains good, solid music – no overblown instrumental solos, avant-garde tunes, or prestidigitation on vocals. These are chain-franchise-style genre entrees containing eight covers (“There’ll Be a Day,” “Lonesome Road Blues,” “Mother Earth” et al.), and six originals. Leading lady Beth Reid-Grigsby’s singing is casual and laid-back, lacking pizzazz yet possessing quiet dignity. The to-die-for highlights are the band’s special guest stars, including Anson Funderburgh, Mark Hummel and Rick Estrin. Red’s Blues knows it doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel, or the genre, to play satisfying music.
Beth Reid-Grigsby, thanks to her older brother, grew up listening to Huddie Ledbetter, Muddy Waters and Mississippi John Hurt records. She and RW met through the local Santa Barbara blues scene in 1977, and have lived in his home state of Georgia and then Texas before heading back to sunny Sacramento in 2006. 2014 Grammy-nominated and Blues Music Award winner RW Grigsby, a bassist, has been playing since he was fourteen years old. He’s toured the U.S., Canada and Europe since the 1980s, and currently juggles playing with Red’s Blues, Mark Hummel and the Blues Survivors and The Golden State/Lone Star Blues Revue.
Along with Beth and RW are Dave Earl on guitar and harmonica. Guest musicians include guitarists Anson Funderburgh, Steve Randall, Robert Sidwell and Mike Keller; Rick Estrin and Mark Hummel on harmonica; James Pace, John Cocuzzi, and Kid Andersen on B3 (Cocuzzi also plays piano), and Larry Carr and Wes Starr on drums and percussion.
The following original song showcases what Red’s Blues can do playing their own material.
Track 02: “Poor Girl” – “Inspired by RW and Beth’s time managing a ghetto bingo hall in Montgomery, Alabama and a girl with a gambling problem.” That’s what Red’s Blues reveals about the origins of their second track, featuring a slinky beat and a stunning character portrait. “Spun out on a stool, reaching for another round, throwing back a shot of gin, trying to tamp her losses down. What’s a poor girl gonna do?” Robert Sidwell’s guitar solo is spectacular.
You Knock Me Out might not be a knockout in terms of introducing new flavors in the genre. However, when what you want is hearty, down-home fare, you can’t go wrong with Red’s Blues.