Jeff Dale & Jeff Stone-The Southside Lives-Album Review

Jeff Dale & Jeff Stone – The Southside Lives

Bluestone Records

11 songs time-37:21

Jeff Dale steps out from his regular duties with Chicago’s Jeff Dale & The South Woodlawners to pursue this mostly acoustic venture with friend since the age of seven Jeff Stone. Dale handles vocals, acoustic guitar and cigar box guitar, while Stone handles the harmonica. Drums and bass appear on five songs. The eleven songs penned by Jeff Dale are personal blues recollections about growing up in Chicago and their on going blues life. The lyrics are highly personal and heartfelt and enhanced by Dale’s gruff, yearning and expressive voice. Jeff Stone’s harp skills are top notch and gels well with Dale’s guitar and voice to create front porch blues atmospherics.

“Honeyboy Story” tells Honeyboy Edwards’ stories told through Jeff Dale, recounting his adventures and misadventures. Honeyboy was one of Dale’s mentors. The guitar and harmonica create contrasting rhythms, moving the groove along quite nicely. He bemoans folks keeping chickens in Chicago in the comical “Rooster”. “Leave the chickens for the country or tonight I’m having rooster stew”. Don’t mess with Jeff.

Jeff talk-sings his and the other Jeff’s memories of growing up on Chicago’s Southside in “The Southside Lives”. “Hooked Up To A Plow” was inspired by a saying of Honeyboy Edwards. It includes some nice slide guitar and great harmonica as elsewhere on the disc. The rigors of a traveling bluesman’s life on the road is expounded on in “The Old Blues Hotel”, that sports more tasty slide work. A yearning for a world of peace and justice for all is expressed in “The Dream”. Vocals, plaintive harp and hand claps are the only backing on the infectious “The First Time I Met the Blues”.

Cool drumming by Wendysue Rosloff along with Pat Ciliberto’s bass shuffle along on the tale of a cheapskate woman-“Tight Ass Mama”. Slide echoes the vocal on the moving, bare bones recounting of Jeff Dale’s mother’s death “Mud On My Shoes”. The upbeat “Broke And Burned” is about burning life’s emotional bridges.

The two Jeffs are in sync musically and emotionally on this highly personal joint effort. The acoustic intertwining is unobtrusively supported by the rhythm section on five of the songs here. The guys manage to update the blues tradition of the guitar-harmonica duo with style and rough-edged grace. They uphold this tradition proudly.

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