The Smoke Wagon Blues Band – Cigar Store
Self-Produced/Distributed by Indie Pool
CD: 13 Songs, 49:45 Minutes
Styles: Ensemble Blues, 1950’s-Style Blues, Jazz-Influenced Blues
In the interests of full disclosure, Ms. Wetnight confesses that she has a soft spot for Canadian Corey Lueck (pronounced “Luke”) and his Smoke Wagon Blues Band. With their 2013 release It Ain’t Easy, and their 2014 follow-up Live in Hamilton, they won her heart. Will they continue to do so with their 2016 album, Cigar Store? The answer is an emphatic and unequivocal YES! Their boisterous, good-natured energy, clever songwriting, and superb musicianship make this band one of Canada’s premiere blues acts. Here’s one caveat for you, faithful fans: If you don’t like jazz-style horns in your preferred form of blues music, this CD is not for you. If you do, though, and enjoy a 1950’s oeuvre along with your tunes, hop on the Smoke Wagon right away.
Their promotional materials explain their roots and accolades: “Formed in 1996, the band became crowd favorites in Hamilton, Ontario’s famous Hess Village…The band has three Hamilton Music Award nominations for Blues Album of the Year, and a Maple Blues Award nomination for Best New Blues Artist…It Ain’t Easy reached #3 on Canada’s Roots charts (#1 for blues), #13 on North America’s Top 50 Roots and Blues charts…Based on their live performances, the band was selected for the 2016 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, where they became fan favorites during a three-night stand at Club 152 on Beale Street.” Hopefully, this new CD will propel Smoke Wagon to greater fame and new heights in the U.S.
Performing alongside lead vocalist and harpist Corey Lueck are Mike Stubbs on guitars, dobro and backing vocals; Nick Succi on piano, organ and backing vocals; Gordon Aeichele on saxophones; Jason Colavecchia on bass guitar and backing vocals; Steve Sherman on percussion, organ, bass, and backing vocals; and Tibor Lukacs on drums and backing vocals.
The following three songs definitely have the smokiest flavor to savor in the Cigar Store.
Track 02: “Must’ve Read It Wrong” – When it comes to “the birds and bees,” some people get their information from questionable sources: “Sweatered girls in pencil skirts, readjusting till it starts to hurt. High heels, long and mean – learned all I know from a girlie magazine. I must have read it wrong…I’m going to yodel in the valley till the cows come home.” Check out Lueck’s killer harmonica and the guitar intro that’ll make any live crowds, drunk or sober, yell “YOW!”
Track 07: “Cigar Store” – Starting out nice and slow, with Nick Succi’s jazzy piano and ‘50’s vibe, the title track soon turns into a swinging sensation, with Gordon Aeichele on sensational sax. “Yeah, Daddy likes that lightning in a bottle,” Lueck reveals and “Mama serves it straight from the panhandle!” If this doesn’t get people dancing, yours truly don’t know what will, especially during its second half.
Track 13: “You’ve been a Good Old Wagon” – This tongue-in-cheek tune features a vehicle that’s seen better days – a human one, nonetheless: “When you were in your prime, you used to run around. You’ve been a good old wagon, but Mama, you’ve done broke down.” Un-PC? You bet. Sexist? Definitely. Nevertheless, this lucky thirteenth track is the best when it comes to humor. As for the instrumentation, everyone goes all out, especially Lueck and Aeichele.
Cigar Store also features a cover by R. Newell in its thirteen terrific tracks. Give ‘em all a listen!