Lucky Losers – Blind Spot
Dirty Cat Records
11 tracks | 51 minutes
The Lucky Losers, Cathy Lemons and Phil Berkowitz, are delivering the goods on their third CD, Blind Spot, recorded at Greaseland Studios, San Jose, CA. This San Francisco based band has brought back the art of the vocal duet in style. This all original album composed by the two and their songwriting partner Danny Caron runs the gamut from swamp boogie to jump swing with an emphasis on blues but they are no one trick pony. Phil’s harp playing is spot on and never without being necessary. The slide guitar on “The River” is Lowell George reincarnated and the two together on this song show the band at its most relaxed and naturally appealing.
“Supernatural Blues” opens with a searing guitar lead of special guest Laura Chavez who is eerily reminiscent of Carlos Santana along with the rhythm section blazing right along with a groove worthy of Benny Goodman’s urban jungle jazz of “Sing Sing Sing” played by Jon Otis, son of none other than THE Johnny Otis. Also in the main band, is guitarist Ian Lamson, who toured with Elvin Bishop, and Robby Yamilov’s on bass who is never in the way but flawless, playing pulsating period piece appropriate bass parts. They and the others featured throughout are a large part of the overall show such as six-time Blues Music Award nominated guitarist Kid Andersen. From a technical standpoint everything here is phenomenally executed. The Bay Area has known many top notch bands over the years and this outfit is no exception.
The real selling point is how well these two relate to each other musically, and how tunefully they play off each others strengths. Whether solo vocals backed by the other, or duets, they are match made in heaven. Like Cathy’s (if Tina Turner and Bonnie Raitt had a baby) soulful solo on “Take The Long Road” backed by Phil’s tasty harp, or Phil’s blues radio hit “Alligator Baptism”, a vintage Fabulous Thunderbirds meets Curtis Mayfield romp with Cathy helping out on the chorus, they each more than hold their own. But when they get together on tunes like “Make A Right Turn” it’s Dan Hick’s and the Hot Licks time. The fiddle on that tune by Annie Staninec is a main stream hit for sure. This is the high point of the album with the lyric “I can’t take it anymore, I swear by God I ain’t gonna get it, not one more hour, not one more minute…” captures the current nervousness of our time replete with a heart pounding car crash at the end. They sing with sure footedness a dual flat blue-toned note stretched out finally resolving upwards. This matches the ominous but jaunty jalopy ride, the aural equivalent of the visual they create lyrically of the instability of a bumpy ride on an old familiar dirt road.
As Cathy Lemon states “Phil and I have travelled some of the loneliest highways in America to bring our music to the people and in those travels, what we’ve seen is a kind of distraction everywhere — almost to the point of madness. I feel so overwhelmed by all this information pouring in from my phone, from the news, from tragic headlines. Now that can be funny or it can be deadly…this is an album about this separation from real experience — seeing life through a screen.” Blind Spot is the modern-day blues album.