CD: 10 songs; 37:45 Minutes
Styles: Blues and Blues Blues Rock Covers
What makes a musician a “bluesmaster”? According to this reviewer, such a performer excels in three areas: instrumentation, lyrics and vocals. In the case of the Bluesmasters, promoted by Direct Music Distribution on their “Volume 3,” this is certainly the case. Covering ten songs – seven written by Craig Ferguson and three by other artists – they go all out to impress audiences. The band consists of guitarist and co-producer Tim Tucker, vocalists Kassidy Tucker (also on bass), Hazel Miller, and Mickey Thomas, drummer Larry Thompson, Doug Lynn on harp, and Mitch Towne on B3 organ and piano. Special guests include Rick Ulsky, Aynsley Dunbar, Hubert Sumlin, Rusty Anderson, Eric Gales, Bob Birch, and Jake E. Lee. None of the blues and rock numbers featured here are originals, but they’re certainly worth a listen, especially these three. They showcase particular prowess in some of the categories mentioned earlier:
GUITAR MASTER – Track 01: “Lovin’ Man” – Without a doubt, the highlight of this opener is Tim Tucker’s explosive fretwork. Balancing on a tightrope between blues and rock-and-roll, it growls and caresses listeners’ ears in equal measure. Paired with Hazel Miller’s screaming Janis Joplin-esque vocals, it’s almost perfect: “I want to love you, let you know. Don’t want to leave you or let you go. Please believe me, gotta understand, I want you to be my lovin’ man….”
HARMONICA MASTER – Track 03: “Up the Line” – Doug Lynn struts his stuff superbly on this cover of a Walter Jacobs tune. His fiery harp provides a train-chugging beat on a tale of a lover deserting her partner: “I’m cutting out,” sings Hazel Miller. “I’m going back up the line. If I stay another day – ooh, it’s gonna drive me out of my mind.” Rusty Anderson provides additional guitar, with Aynsley Dunbar on drums and Rick Ulsky on B3. For more harmonica heaven, check out the very next song, “Colorado Boogie.”
VOCALS MASTER – Track 10: “Baby Hold On” – This may be a rock-and-roll hit by Eddie Money and James Lyon instead of a blues standard, but it shows how fantastic Mickey Thomas is on vocals. He was the lead singer on Elvin Bishop’s “Fooled Around and Fell in Love,” and hasn’t lost his touch at all. “Rich man, poor man?” he asks his heart’s desire pleadingly. “You don’t know me all that much. Your mama always told you, girl, money can’t buy you love.” Anyone who fondly remembers the 1970s and ‘80s will groove along to such a cover.
Some purists or aficionados of original songs might fault this CD for the lack of them, but as an old saying goes, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” The Bluesmasters clearly have high energy and zest for blues and rock, and that goes a long way. Their “Volume 3” is short and sweet, great for an approximately half-hour highway trip!