Roger “Hurricane” Wilson Trio – Live from Maxwell’s | Album Review

Roger “Hurricane” Wilson Trio – Live from Maxwell’s

Bluestorm Records

12 songs – 76 minutes

Born in the shadows of New York City and raised on the Jersey Shore, where he adopted his nickname after a major storm devastated his hometown, Roger “Hurricane” Wilson has been firing on all cylinders on six-string since the ‘70s, but he debuts a new project with this CD, a rollicking, old-school pleaser recorded at Maxwell’s Cigar Bar in Woodstock, Ga., in the northern Atlanta suburbs in February.

Based in the Peach State since attending prep school there in the ‘60s and schooled as a trumpet player and drummer, Roger picked up the guitar after falling under the spell of Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King and Duane Allman. He’s been playing out since 1973 and began teaching the instrument later in the decade, too. But he didn’t release his first album until the mid-‘90s.

This release is the 31st in Wilson’s arsenal, and it came together when he met drummer Sandra Senn and bassist Paul Arredondo – longtime playing partners – and played with them briefly during a barroom jam last summer. The feeling they produced was palpable enough that Roger started scheduling regular rehearsals and a few gigs, during which the trio created the set list that you hear here. They’re joined by Skipper Gibson, who sits in on Rhodes organ.

Delivering a barebones sound that mirrors the live recordings of Wilson’s youth, the trio produces a solid, break- and shred-free  86-minute set here, delivering five of Roger’s originals and seven familiar covers along the way with the leader handling the mic with his pleasant, mid-range vocals throughout.

The self-penned “I Did What I Wanted To” lopes out of the gate before Roger turns back the clock to 1960 for an updated reading of The Shadows’ “Apache,” one of the top instrumentals of the era. The similarly themed original, “Why I Do What I Do,” is up next before a driving, seven-minute version of Sonny Boy Williamson II’s “Help Me.”

The slow-and-steady “The Way I Am” is an unusual choice for a blues set when you consider it was penned by Sonny Throckmorton and a hit for country legend Merle Haggard in 1980. But it’s a decent fit before Wilson goes uptempo and pulls out all the stops for a six-minute rendition of Elmore James’ “Done Somebody Wrong” and follows a pair of originals – “Tribute to Danny” and “Talking Heads” – that run 14 minutes before yielding to “Rumble,” the instrumental hit for Link Wray & His Raymen, which dominated the airwaves in 1958.

Extended takes of Junior Wells’ familiar “Little by Little” and Tony Joe White’s “Rainy Night in Georgia” follow before Wilson takes listeners home with his own “I’m Coming Home.”

A rock-solid set from a band that’s all business – and good at it, too, there’s nothing flashy here but plenty to like if you’re looking for a good time.

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