Root Nine Records
CD: 9 Songs; 47:05 Minutes
Styles: Contemporary and Traditional Electric Blues, Blues Rock
What is an “iota”? In its most literal definition, it’s the Greek letter “I” (after “alpha”, “beta,” “gamma,” etc.). In a figurative sense, it means “a little bit”, as in “Yours truly does not care one iota about rap music.” In the case of Washington-area-based Bobby Thompson, he and his band played Live at Iota, a renowned club and café in Arlington, Virginia. Washington, DC’s Root Nine Records has distributed an album so smooth and balanced, so well-edited, that listeners might not be able to tell it was recorded live – minus the cheering crowd at the end of each song. Bobby Thompson’s talent fills one’s ears and heart with the vigor and camaraderie that only comes in the midst of an appreciative audience. On eight original tracks and one cover (Elmore James’ “Look Over Yonder’s Wall”), this dynamic quartet goes all out to impress. This is reference-quality blues, not just any “live release”.
The home page of his website reveals that he was nominated for “Musician of the Year” last year by the Washington Area Music Association. The “Band” section explains: “Awe-inspiring master guitarist and vocalist Bobby Thompson is no stranger to the blues and rock world. He cut his teeth learning to play in the old blues clubs of D.C. from the likes of Bobby Parker. After honing his craft as a much sought after support man, Thompson decided to step out as a solo artist, releasing three albums since 2011.”
Along with Bobby, as he himself performs on vocals and guitar, are Wes Lanich on keyboards, Seth Morrissey on bass and vocals, and Jeff Mills on drums.
The only flaw of this album might be that some of the songs run a little too long, but that’s the beauty of live music. If crowds want more, bands give them more, as does Thompson. The following three are the best example of his above-average singing and excellent musicianship:
Track 01: “Good Things That We Have” – With a keyboard-and-guitar intro that will make excited fans shout, “Yow!”, the live album’s opener is an absolute stunner. It’s a reminder to count one’s blessings, especially if involved in a romantic relationship. “Don’t forget about the good things that we have. Don’t let them fade so fast.”
Track 02: “Nobody’s Fool” – On the flip side of that sentiment comes the very next track, edgier and more syncopated, with a swinging beat. “I’m starting to think I’m crazy,” Thompson laments. “The heart makes one do wild things…So now I wonder who’s running. I took way too much advice. I can’t do the things that you do. I won’t be nobody’s fool.” Wes Lanich’s barroom piano keyboards are fantastic here, as is Bobby’s singing.
Track 03: “Again” – Reminiscent of Santana’s “Smooth”, albeit in a more melancholy vein, the third song has the best lyrics and vocals: “She’s got innocence written on her face – it’s criminal. She lets it go to waste. She’s beautiful…She’s in my head, under my skin. I can never, I can never let her get into my heart again.”
Live at Iota is vivid, fun, and of the highest quality!