Bubba and the Big Bad Blues – Drifting | Album Review

Bubba and the Big Bad Blues – Drifting     

Fullerton Gold Records


CD: 12 Songs, 47 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues Rock, Guitar Monster Blues, Ensemble Blues

Dear Constant Readers: In your opinion, what does it take to succeed in the blues scene today? I don’t just mean in terms of selling albums, but of having “it”- whatever “it” is. Some think the secret lies in remaining true to classic styles. Others go for innovation, whether of the electronic, psychedelic, rock, funk, or country variety. Still others, like Southern California’s Bubba and the Big Bad Blues, blend these two approaches in nearly perfect measure. One can definitely tell that these guitar monsters have a firm base in the blues, while appealing to their more shredder-based fans. On top of that, they add organ, piano, and a horn section for some big-band sound.  They ARE “it.”

This is a tricky feat to pull off in several respects. First off, how do you control the overall volume and intensity? Which instruments are showcased at which times? Do you go all out and blow people away, or do you pull back a bit and allow fans to appreciate the subtle nuances of each number? Against all odds, Bubba and company do both of these last two things at the same time – on EVERY song. I kid you not. The twelve tracks featured here will allow you to party all night and have enough energy in the morning to pinpoint what gave you such stamina.

Cases in point? The title track of their newest release and the tune that follows: “Do What’s Right.” The first is a slow burner reminiscent of SRV and Walter Trout, the latter a hard rocker with a hard-driving message. Christopher Clerc brings out his best pipes for Drifting, and as for the Big Bad Blues? They’re oh-so-good. “Lord, I’m drifting way out to sea. I feel I’m being pulled down in deep misery,” laments “Bubba,” voice smooth as glass and the background instrumentation like velvet. Grab a partner and dance or you might as well be dead. “Do What’s Right” reminds us to “take out the trash and put it where it goes” before it stinks up our houses and lives. Even in dark times, if we hold the line and do our duty, we can make a difference.

Joining Bubba (guitar and vocals) are Nick D’Virgilio, Tony Braunagel, Jason Lozano, Shawn Nourse, Doug Swanson, Mike Barry, Johnny Bazz, Jacob Dupre, Mike Finnigan, Rick Solem, Richard Rosenberg, Joe Sublett, Les Lovitt, and Sophia D’Virgilio.

Another tantalizing tune is “She’s Your Problem Now.” It’s too short for dancing, but man, it’s just right for drinking. Whether your favorite beverage is alcoholic or not, you’ll feel a buzz once you get into the groove. Everyone threads the needle just right when it comes to balancing blues and rock. They don’t overpower each other, but mesh like colors on a tie-dyed T-shirt. Yow!

Bubba and the Big Bad Blues don’t huff and puff on Drifting. However, they’ll blow you away!

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