Charlie Morris presents: The Bluescoast Sessions | Album Review

Charlie Morris presents: The Bluescoast Sessions

Bluescoast Records – 2017

15 tracks; 79 minutes

Charlie Morris is a mainstay of the Tampa Bay blues scene in Florida. These recordings were made over the years with a range of local artists as well as visitors from outside Florida. The sessions were live and there are very few additional ‘splices’ across this generously filled CD, many of the tunes being pretty lengthy jams. Charlie wrote most of the material here, some in conjunction with the featured artists, plays guitar on all the tracks with a revolving cast of support musicians and also handles most of the vocals.

Lucky Peterson is featured on two tracks, the first of which has Betty Fox singing strongly on the punning title “Lucky Money”, Lucky and Charlie exchanging guitar solos enthusiastically; “One Word: Funky!” finds Lucky shifting to organ for an instrumental which also gives solo space to the rhythm section on these tunes, Benny Sudano on bass and Dave Reinhardt on drums. Damon Fowler plays lap steel on the moody “13 Little Bluesmen”, a slow tune in which the bluesmen gradually drop out, rather like the old nursery rhyme, and puts some attractive country licks into “Sitting By The Roadside”, both tunes having Tim Heding on organ, Mike Chavers on bass and Tom Bell on drums. Another local guitarist Jimmy Griswold locks horns with Charlie on “Yakety Clams”, a sort of deep-fried Florida version of “Yakety Yak”, Dave again pounding the skins with Andrew Lack on bass and Kevin Wilder on organ.

Bill Wharton aka ‘The Sauce Boss’ is renowned for cooking gumbo while he plays but here it is just the music on three cuts: with Dave Reinhardt again on drums and Rob McDowell on bass “Make Her Little Heart Sing” brings Sandy Atkinson to the mike on a country-tinged shuffle, “Sauce Train” belts along at high speed while an extended “Fly Gumbo” does rather outstay its welcome with George Harris on spoken vocals. George also appears on two other lengthy jams, sharing guitar duties with Charlie and a rhythm section of Tom Bell on drums and Steve Vitale on bass: the rather suggestive “Kick It, Lick It Or Leave It Alone” has a lot of guitar and “What Your Mama Done Did” adds Lori Cherry’s vocal to an upbeat shuffle with some nice uncredited organ work.

Organ features also on two tracks with Shawn Brown, a well-known blues, jazz and gospel performer in the Tampa Bay area. Yet another rhythm section is in operation here with Jeff Avrin on bass and Eric Elsner on drums: the short and pacy “Buckle Up Baby” has Charlie’s jangling country guitar set against Shawn’s organ while “Tell Me The Truth” adds Josh Nelms on lead guitar, Alan Craig and Betty Fox give a hand on backing vocals and Shawn shows his gospel side. TC Carr’s harmonica features on two tracks, Mike Chavers on bass, Tom Bell on drums and Charlie, as ever, on guitar and vocals: the rocking “My Baby Don’t Cook” is a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the girl who doesn’t spend time in the kitchen because she is too busy loving her man; “The Last 12” is a gentle instrumental with excellent harp, both these tracks figuring among the stronger cuts on the album. The final track “Da-Nah” finds all the guitarists from the many sessions playing a classic Albert King riff – see if you have been listening attentively and can spot who is who!

Overall this album has some good moments although some of the longer tracks border on the overindulgent, as is sometimes the case with jams. On the positive side the album shows that there is a wealth of talent in the Tampa Bay area.

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