The Wayne Riker Gathering – Alphabetical Blues Bash Volume 1 | Album Review

The Wayne Riker Gathering – Alphabetical Blues Bash Volume 1

Fretful Records

13 tracks

Wayne Riker is a long time guitar teacher and author of music books from Southern California. Here he demonstrates his guitar prowess with a dozen blues standards with vocal assistance from nine San Diego area singers. His career has entered his sixth decade and he’s a master of the six string.

Riker handles all the electric guitar work. Oliver Shirley III play bass and Marty Dodson is on drums. Rebecca Jade and Ron Christopher Jones do some fun backing vocals on tracks 5 and 9.

Shelle Blue does a fine job with Otis Rush and “All Your Love.” Riker nails the guitar lead. He follows that with an instrumental version of “Baby Please Don’t Go,” the Joe Williams standard. It’s well done. Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Checkin’ Up On My Baby” is next and Lauren Leigh handles the fronting of the band quite well. It swings and bounces nicely and Wayne and band aptly support the effort.

“Dust My Broom” is next and Riker does some mean slide in this nice instrumental. “Eyes Like A Cat” features Billy Watson who traces vocal licks with Rikers guitar. It’s a nice jump blues. Riker wails on his ax for us and it’s very sweet. “Next up is “Fever,” and Janet Hammer does a  sultry and superb job with it.

Deanna Haala handles “Going Down” as Riker rocks out a bit for us. “Honky Tonk” is another interesting instrumental with a mid tempo groove and a song that Riker makes his own. “I’m Willing To Be Your Friend” has Debora Galan on lead vocals and Riker doing some fine guitar picking. “Jailhouse Blues” is an old Bessie Smith song. Ron Houston give the cut a down  home feel and Riker helps in setting the mood with some pretty solo guitar behind him.

“Killing Floor” follows that with Michelle Lundeen in the lead. She grabs this one and gives it her all as Riker plays some mean guitar. Up next is “Little Red Rooster” with Liz Ajuzee handling the singing. These two Howlin’ Wolf songs are fun as Wayne shows his stuff.  He finishes up with a swing and jump version of “Move It On Over,” and Riker has a lot of fun with the song.

Now that he’s covered A through M, I expect Volume 2 will cover the second half of the alphabet.  These familiar songs get respectful covers and interesting takes by Riker and his crew. The album is a fun ride with his great guitar and his cadre of nine singers and his band.

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