CD: 8 Songs, 29:18 Minutes
Styles: Guitar Monster Blues, Debut Album, Blues Covers
When I was in the fifth grade, my class took a field trip to Chicago’s Field Museum, home of several recondite artifacts – including a genuine unwrapped Egyptian mummy. Most of us cried, “Eww!” when we saw it, including me. However, as grossed out as we were, fascination grabbed a hold of us, too. Native American pottery? There was a lot of that, in terms of other exhibits. There was only one exposed mummy, however, and we capitalized the M on it. To this day, I still remember that boy’s body, immortalized in a display coffin, his skin and bones revealed. The pottery? Not so much. Keep that in mind, Blues Blast readers, as you consider Diggin’ In! to the debut blues-rock album of New York’s Jeremy Bar-Illan. Seven out of the eight songs on it are covers so revered they might as well be showcased in a museum: James Williams’ “Big Legged Woman,” Segar and Broonzy’s “Key to the Highway,” Melvin London’s “Messin’ with the Kid,” and most of all, Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads.” You know you’ve seen and heard these treasures dozens of times before, if not hundreds, so can our current guitar monster top the originals? No, but this is his debut release, and who can do that on the first try? Nearly no one. Where Bar-Illan excels is in his Hendrix-esque shredder, overpowering every other musical aspect. To wit: There’s a lot of pottery here, the stunning clay vessels into which the old masters have poured their souls, but Jeremy doesn’t fill them all the way to the top. He soon might.
According to his online press kit, “Jeremy is also the founder and music director for the hit funk band, Dragonfly 13 – a nine piece funk and R&B orchestra. Their new album, Let the Music Bring You Back, is available at all digital outlets. In 2014 Jeremy was presented with the President’s Volunteer Service Award for his work with non-profits with music as a focus. He has been volunteering with Musicians On Call since January of 2011 with over 300 bedside performances donated. He is the founder and director of a non-profit organization, The Purple Hat Foundation, which is a conglomerate of volunteer musicians who perform benefit concerts to raise awareness and funding for pediatric cancer patients and related programs…Through these efforts, he lives his belief that music is a bridge to all of mankind and the universal language which can be harnessed to help create a better world.”
Performing along with Bar-Illan, lead vocalist and guitarist, are Otis Lee Williams on B3 organ and piano; Giacomo Tagliavia on bass, and Dale Paddyfoote on drums.
The only original song on Jeremy’s debut album is also his best, because it bares his own soul.
Track 06: “Nothing to Lose” – Who says that the B3 organ has to sound like a church instrument? Otis Lee Williams goes all out on this take-no-prisoners rocker. “I’ve got the blues, ‘cause I’ve got nothing to lose, hey, yeah,” exults Bar-Illan, holding a long, trilling note on his guitar that would cause lesser mortals to break a string.
Since Jeremy’s done so much good, for so many people and causes, it’s hard to break the news to you lovers of the blues: Vocally, he’s a bit dry, and if you don’t think Jimi Hendrix counts as a blues artist, this CD won’t be your cup of tea. However, if you love shredding blues rock, start Diggin’ In!