Frank Bang & The Cook County Kings – The Blues Don’t Care
Blue Hoss Records
10 songs time-57:14
Frank Bang (Frank Blinkal) served as Buddy Guy’s second guitarist for five years, playing many dates. This internship along with his band mates playing with such luminaries as Magic Slim among many others has nurtured this band to a point were the blues just to seem to pour out of them effortlessly. They have parlayed their experience into creating blues music that is at once new and invigorated, whilst keeping one foot in the traditional precepts of the blues of the past. Frank’s guitar playing cuts through the air when needed or delivers poignant runs, whatever the situation dictates. His voice has the necessary rough edges that are well suited to this music and it also appears to have been slightly electronically altered and echoed, which contributes to the atmospherics and adds a touch of mystery.
The Cook County Kings are as sturdy as steel as the backbone for their vision of the blues. Russ Green’s well versed harmonica playing weaves in and out of this heady mix. Brian “BJ” Jones thumps the ever loving daylight out of his drums when applicable, while Andre Howard anchors it all with his on the money bass playing. Donnie Nichilo’s piano talents are in the best traditions of the Chicago purveyors of the eighty-eights. The blues tradition of interactive ensemble playing is well represented here. These guys are able to leap buildings in a single bound.
The title track is a classic blues with attitude song. Guitar solos are reserved for later. “The Dream” is slow and deliberate with harmonica and guitar testifying as they reinforce the narrator’s longing for his girl. The first original song of three, “Million Miles Away” prowls around like a stealthy mountain lion. The rhythm section pounds at just the right level. “Till The Day I Die” is a testimony to the singer’s girl. It’s a real house rocker. Jr. Wells’ “Come On In This House (Mercy Mercy)” is taken at a slower pace and done up proud.
Frank unleashes some wicked slide guitar on “Can’t Find My way Back Home (Part 1 & Part 2)”. It starts out slow, then the slide whips the band up into a house rockin’ frenzy. It’s crunch time as heavy rock meets R. L. Burnside territory on Magic Slim’s “Possum In My Tree”. The guitar strings get torn up on this one. “Repo Man” begins life all funky, slows down, then the instruments build back up. The guy compares him self to a repo man as he tells his lady he isn’t taking her back.
“Still Called The Blues” is a successful execution of a powerful and modern blues. The package is all wrapped up quite nicely at the end with A.C. Reed’s “Can’t Go On This Way”, ensemble interaction at it’s best.
All is not lost blues lovers, real blues is alive and well here and elsewhere, just like anything worth while, you have to seek it out. These gentlemen have the blues coursing through their veins and it travels down to their instruments and voices. A few years ago I had the pleasure of seeing Frank in Buddy Guy’s band at The Riverfront Blues Festival in Wilmington, Delaware. He played mostly slide guitar that day. Buddy and the band were really on. Hardly any cut off songs and the covers sounded like they belonged to Buddy. I think the fact that the mayor came out to meet them really had a profound effect on the band. To this day that was the best blues performance that I have ever witnessed. Now it looks like Frank and company have taken the ball and are running with it. Dang, I like me some blues!