Self-Produced (Distributed by ESP-Disk, Ltd.)
CD: 12 songs; 44:07 Minutes
Styles: Contemporary Harmonica Blues, Contemporary and Traditional Electric Blues
What’s a fabulous new career after the military? Playing a “Hot Blues Mess,” as Cleveland, Ohio’s Bobby “BlackHat” Walters has done! This recording artist, singer, songwriter and harmonica specialist has been playing his instrument of choice for over three decades. According to his website, “After retiring from the U.S. Coast Guard, Bobby started taking his harp playing seriously and has studied with Dennis Gruenling, Phil Wiggans, Johnny Sansone and Allen Holmes.
While a member of the Black Rose Blues Band he had the honor of opening for blues legends B.B. King, Taj Mahal, and Steady Rollin Bob Margolin. In 2008, the duo of Bobby BlackHat and Larry Berwald were semi-finalists at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN and were also nominated for the Hampton Roads Port Folio Music Award.”
Bobby even has acting credentials, having participated in the History Channel’s documentary “Sherman’s March to the Sea” in 2006. The other cooks of his tasty “Mess” are Larry Berwald on guitar and background vocals, bassist Brian Eubanks, and drummer/percussionist Tony Lucero. Featured guest musicians and vocalists are Carl Hamlin on keyboards, Clifford Clark on sax and background vocals, drummer Martin Walters, and female singers Ellie Bell, Resa Gibbs, Akeylah and Shayna Walters. Of twelve songs, eleven are originals, with a cover of Eddie Cooley and John Davenport’s “Fever” in between. These three tunes will especially excite blues fans:
Track 01: “Good Explanation (Short Version)” – Co-written by Walters and Berwald, this opening number provides a fresh taste of Chicago blues. Usually songs about cheating feature only one person’s point of view, but in this case, both partners are at fault. “I’m not the fool you think I am,” Bobby sings, but lead vocalist Resa Gibbs later retorts: “I’m not the fool you want me to be.” For the “long version,” sit back, relax, and hit ‘play’ on track twelve.
Track 04: “Hot Blues Mess” – What makes a blues song most suitable for audience participation? This reviewer presents three criteria: 1) irresistible instrumentation, 2) a medium-to-fast tempo, and 3) a chorus that absolutely requires it: “She’s a hot blues mess in a too-tight dress.” If people don’t sing along, repeating each phrase after Bobby sings it, this ‘echo effect’ will fall flat. Cal Hamlin’s keyboards are especially effective.
Track 07: “I Know What You Mean” – The lyrics are the best thing about track seven, a witty diagnostic list of when someone has the blues: “Like when the one you love leaves you broken-hearted and pocket-poor; when the job you worked for twenty years gets sent to a foreign shore. Like when your car breaks down on the coldest day of the year; when you only have a dollar and they’re selling two-dollar beer.” Once again, our main musician proves his harmonica talent.
Bobby BlackHat Walters’ debut album certainly is a “Hot Blues Mess”!