Dave Thomas – Road to the Blues | Album Review

Dave Thomas – Road to the Blues

Blonde on Blonde / Blind Raccoon Promotions


CD: 13 Songs, 49 Minutes

Styles: Ensemble Blues, “Traditional Contemporary” Blues

True confession: Both of my Boomer parents were born in 1950. By that time, Dave Thomas – no, not the Wendy’s icon, a veteran bluesman from the UK – had already begun his musical career. He grew up during the 1960s blues boom and played in highly insalubrious joints in the docks of Newport, his home town in South Wales. At age 18, he was asked to join the seminal progressive rock band Blonde On Blonde. During the next three years, he toured all over the UK and recorded a single and two albums.

Some particular highlights of Dave’s career have included being supported by Fleetwood Mac, an appearance at Knebworth Greenbelt Festival where he sang to an audience of 25,000 people, and being invited to perform at a special show commemorating Buddy Holly at The Texas Embassy for Paul McCartney.

In recent years, he has built an international reputation as a fine blues guitarist and singer. For 10 years he led the house band at Shake Down Blues, a specialist promoter of black American blues in the UK. During this period he worked with 40 great black American blues musicians.

Also featured are producer and partner-in-crime Steve Jinks (bass, drums, percussion and backing vocals), James Goodwin (piano), Phil Marshall (saxophone), Gareth Tucker (harmonica), Michael Smith (saxophone) and John Thirkell (trumpet).

Thomas’ newest CD may not be a revolutionary or groundbreaking release, but it is a soulful chronicle of his journey in the genre. He performs with a laid-back vibe, easy to listen and relate to. Even though this is a studio album, you’ll feel like you’re right there in a pub or concert audience. In the course of thirteen songs (twelve originals and one Chuck Berry cover), he takes you on the Road to the Blues. It’s not always smooth or easy, but if you keep your “Eye on the Money” (“hand on the wheel,” as the lyrics continue), you will find your timeless destination.

If you’re looking for hand-clapping, foot-stomping blues, check out track six, “Leaving San Francisco.” A love ballad? Let Thomas be your “Everywhere Man.” A Chicago-style number? “Rose Tinted Love.” There’s something for everyone, which is a good thing, but sometimes the tunes are laid out like on one’s hometown buffet: Sure, they’re hot and tasty, but there’s little zing or pizzazz. Perhaps those are for young folks, but even forty-somethings like me love spice.

Looking for a postmodern album with a classic atmosphere? Travel the Road to the Blues!

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