Dylan James Shaw – Boogie Boy
CD: 8 Songs, 23 Minutes
Styles: Piano Blues, Boogie, Instrumentals, Blues Prodigy, Debut Album
Here’s a riddle: No matter what we are now – doctor, lawyer, mailman, blues fan – what were we? The answer, of course, is “children.” Once upon a time, long ago and far away (or not), every one of us was a youngster. A lad or lass, a teen and tween. We had big ambitions back then, and we were all going to make it big. Paltry few of us, however, had their dreams come true at the tender young age of fourteen. Dylan James Shaw has, though. A blues prodigy with a silver voice, a heart of gold, and fingers that tickle the ivories like a well-seasoned pro, he’s already achieved what most blues artists would give their right eye and more for – a prestigious career. On his debut album, Shaw proves he’s already in the big leagues.
The best thing about this CD is that it’s full of unadulterated joy. The worst thing? It’s too short. Running twenty-three minutes, it’ll leave piano blues aficionados, especially the younger set, yearning for more. Still, it’s just enough to whet your appetite for his YouTube videos and other recorded footage. Featuring seven official songs (five originals and two instrumental covers), it also conceals a ghost track (reviewed below). Both Dylan’s piano and his vocals are clear and precise, though you oftentimes can’t hear the lyrics to his original tunes over 88 keys. That’s a mixing problem, not an innate flaw. Listen closely and hone your auditory skills.
Even though he’s not even old enough to drive his “Bluesmobile,” Shaw is very well-known in the professional blues music community. Originally taught by his blues grandmother and professional vocalist mother, this Boogie Boy is lighting it up with his music, performance, personality and perfect pitch. His mentors include rock-and-roll royalty such as Chuck Leavell (Allman Brothers, Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton), Bruce Katz (Gregg Allman, Ronnie Earl), Bob Margolin (Muddy Waters) and more. His list of accolades is likely longer than his report card, boasting such honors as Allstate “Blues Kid Of The Year 2021” BluesKids.com Chicago, a University of Chicago Accredited Scholarship, a Pinetop Perkins Foundation scholarship awardee (2019 & 2020), a Blues Radio International broadcast (April 2020) and Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour broadcast (February 2020). He’s also been an International Blues Challenge performer (2019 & 2020), a guest on FOX, CBS, and WGN, and an interviewee in Blues Therapy by Tab Benoit and Dr. Anita Schlank (2020).
Performing with Dylan is Christine Windburn on backup and harmony vocals for track two.
Every song here is a highlight, but I want to mention the one that’s not listed: the ghost track, “Bluesmobile.” Everything is spot-on, including the harmonica and catchy refrain of “Wheels are spinning, we’re a-grinning, HOLD on tight!” Just the way he says “hold” will perk your ears up and make you grin so wide your cheeks will split. More-than-honorable mentions include the instrumental covers (“Sweet Home Chicago” and “Get Up and Go Blues”), and the perky original “Homework Blues.” It inspired me to write my own blues song about a kid who loves homework. That’s what art is supposed to do – urge you to create, and Shaw knows this well.
I want to hear more from this Boogie Boy. You will, too, because he’s a superstar in the making!