Rob Stone – Gotta Keep Rollin’ | Album Review

robstonecdRob Stone – Gotta Keep Rollin’

VizzTone Label Group 

CD: 12 Songs; 48:14 Minutes

Styles: Chicago Blues, Swing Blues, Traditional Blues

In this century, where hip-hop, rap and techno dance are three of the most popular musical genres, what place does the blues occupy? Its position is so unique that many fans fall into one of two camps. One of them aims to keep the genre ‘pure’ by adhering almost completely to its origins. How will people – young people especially – know what the blues is if it keeps being diluted by other genres such as blues-rock, funk, jazz and soul? The other camp wants to fuse traditional and modern styles, and have the best of both worlds. Enter Chicago-and-L.A.-based Rob Stone. Formerly performing with legendary blues drummer Sam Lay, such a harmonica monster has Gotta Keep Rollin’ in his solo career. On his fourth album as bandleader and first with the VizzTone label, he seamlessly blends contemporary blues influences with seminal ones such as ragtime.

Alongside Stone are his longtime band guests Chris James on guitar, bassist Patrick Rynn, and drummer Willie “The Touch” Hayes. Special guest stars include Chicago masters saxophonist Eddie Shaw (recently inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame), guitarist John Primer, pianist David Maxwell and a former Howlin’ Wolf piano man, Henry Gray. Also featured are pianist Ariyo, drummers Frank Rossi and Eddie Kobek, guitarist Jeff Stone, and background vocalists Mike Mahany and Clarke Rigsby. They give their all on six original compositions and six covers. These are terrific:

Track 02: “Wonderful Time” – This swing blues sensation, originally by John Lee Williamson (Sonny Boy 1), shows what happens when one consumes too many adult beverages: “I know I had a wonderful time last night – at least that they tell me I did. I know I had a wonderful time last night, so I couldn’t keep it hid. Got something to tell you, baby, you can’t do: Can’t love me and some other man too.” Our narrator may have temporary amnesia, but dancing couples’ flying feet won’t.

Track 03: “Lucky 13” – Life’s a gamble, and this original Chicago shuffle’s subject is looking for a new favorite number. Why? “Made a lot of money; didn’t pay no tax. Government came along and trimmed it all back. Time for a change of scene – come on, lucky thirteen!” David Maxwell’s boogie-woogie piano and Chris James’ guitar are in top form, along with Stone’s harp.

Track 11: “Blues Keep Rollin’ On” – No matter what occupational hazards Rob and his ensemble face on the road, one thing’s for sure: the music endures. Despite a fickle GPS, horrid hotel rooms, gas station fare, and low pay worst of all, “the blues keep rollin’ on.” Clarke Rigsby harmonizes nicely with Stone here, and Frank Rossi and Willie Hayes pull double drummer duty.

Even though he sometimes talk-sings, Rob Stone more than makes up for it with his heck-raising harmonica skills. Blues fans Gotta Keep Rollin’, and he’ll help to make their journey joyful!

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