St Louis Blues Society – 2018
17 tracks; 71 minutes
With the intention of demonstrating that St Louis has a vibrant music scene the local Blues Society started a series of compilation releases in 2014. With this latest edition 62 acts have been represented with no repetition – and they believe they have another couple of CDs to go before they end up repeating anyone! I have not heard the previous discs but this one certainly shows a wide range of styles with soul (Southern and urban), rocking blues, solo piano, traditional acoustic blues and 20’s style jug bands all represented. With the exception of one act none of these were familiar to me though some of the supporting musicians are: Rockin’ Johnny Burgin, Patrick Recob, Gene Jackson and Paul Niehaus IV.
In fact Paul is a driving force behind these recordings as he produced all the sessions and had a hand in writing several of the songs, as well as playing a range of instruments across the tracks including bass, guitar, keyboards and drums. Paul was the producer of recent CDs by Roland Johnson and Gene Jackson which were very well received by critics and soul fans, Roland’s getting a nomination for the Soul-Blues category in the 2017 Blues Blast Awards.
There are several tracks here that mine a soul vein, including two that add strings to female vocalists Kim Massie and Charisse ‘Swan’ Sauls but, for this reviewer, the following tracks were the pick:
- Marcell Strong And The Apostles – “I Got To Find My Baby”. 77 year-old Marcell wrote and sang this old-school soul tune, making you want to hear more from him – maybe the next solo release from Paul’s Blue Lotus imprint?
- Brother Jefferson Band – “Scars”. Singer and songwriter Jeff Chapman was the only performer with whom I was familiar (from his Jeff’s Blues Vols 1 & 2) and this strong song with his regular band contains some excellent sax work from Ian Buschmann on baritone and Frank Bauer on tenor.
- Marty Abdullah – “You Done Me Wrong” is Marty’s debut writing credit, a fine piece of Southern soul.
- Jason David Cooper – A Quiet Man’s Dream” is more of a swinging shuffle with Jason’s jazz-inflected guitar to the fore.
- Kyle Yardley – “Little Girl” is a Chicago blues with Kyle on vocals, harp and drums, Rockin’ Johnny Burgin sitting in on second guitar.
The other artists featured here are Melissa Neels Band, Annie & The Fur Trappers, Eastsiders Review Band, Matt ‘The Rattlesnake’ Lesch, Nick Pence and Joey Glynn, Brian Owens, Teec’a Easby, Chase Garrett, Alonzo Townsend and Devil’s Elbow. Every song is original, several being the debut writing effort of the act concerned – a great effort and congratulations to everyone involved.
It certainly seems that visitors to St Louis will find plenty of good music during their stay to judge by this selection!