CD: 12 Songs, 55:14 Minutes
Styles: Blues Covers, Contemporary Electric Blues and Blues Rock, Debut Album
When I was a kid and teenager, two of my favorite places to go were Disney World and Disneyland. My family and I would visit the former in even years and the latter in odd years, from 1984 to 1995. Each of those parks had a Magic Kingdom, my favorite “land” of all. The thrill lay not so much in the new stuff, as awesome as it was, but seeing the same places and riding the same rides year after year: Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, Cinderella’s Castle, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and the Jungle Cruise. Nostalgia was the name of my game, not so much novelty. Think about that as you pop The Gordon Meier Blues Experience’s debut album into your CD player. It’s got “Howlin’ for my Darlin’,” “In the Open,” “Gypsy Woman” and “The Stumble” on it, but the blues is nothing if not nostalgic. Debut albums, as this one is, are often tributes to the old masters, showing what bands can do in terms of classic appeal before they unleash their new musical rides on audiences. On two original songs and ten covers, Gordon Meier and his posse give their all, but don’t have the “Disney sparkle,” so to speak. Not yet. With time, their musicianship will gain more razzle-dazzle. Vocally, Meier, who is Caucasian, almost sounds African-American, but not quite.
On his website, Gordon himself waxes nostalgic about his blues roots: “Every musician is a product of their influences. It would be dishonest for me to deny the influence of B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Lightnin’ Hopkins and others. However, the two profound ‘game changers’ were Freddie King and Magic Slim. A quote from B.B. or Muddy may come at any time in my performance, but the giants who take me to the gig and stand with me are Slim and Freddie…I became very close to Slim and his band and played with them many times through the years. John Primer was the last guitar player in Muddy’s band, and when Muddy passed, John went with Slim. In the thirteen years that John spent with Slim, we also became good friends.” He bestowed this album with its title in honor of his magnificent “Buddy Buddy Friends.”
Along with lead vocalist and guitarist Meier are Lester Veith on drums and vocals; Mark Freidman on bass and backing vocals; Joe Taino on slide guitar for tracks two and four; Dean Shot on rhythm guitar; Dennis Gruenling on harmonica, and Tom Hammer on organ and Wurlitzer electric piano.
As you can guess, those of you who’ve read me for some time, the following song is one of the two originals on this album. It’s worth noting because it is a fresh attraction:
Track 04: “Just Keep Ridin’” – One of the best things about Disney parks is that the new rides blend in so well with the older atmosphere that they don’t seem out of place. Such is the case with “Just Keep Ridin’.” Its themes are as familiar as “It’s a Small World” – heartbreak, love, wanderlust, and what every blues musician knows s/he must do. “I just keep riding, trying to drive my blues away. I’ve got the highway in my face; I’ve got to move from place to place. While I’m shifting through the gears, I let the wind blow away my tears.” Great guitar here.
Gordon Meier’s Kingdom may not be Magic, but with more Blues Experience, it will be!