Geneva Red and The Roadsters - Gettin' Cocky
(Bottle Cap Records)
4 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Feb. 22, 2005
Review by Tony BonyataLocal blues musician Geneva Red and her band The Roadsters have just released their third full-length album entitled "Gettin' Cocky." On this entertaining collection of rousing blues rave-ups, juke joint stompers and hypnotic hoodoo numbers, Red, along with musical partner-in-crime Jackie 5 & Dime Wolworth, has incorporated a taut no-nonsense band that pulls out the slack found in so many modern day blues acts today.
Recorded live in the studio in Palatine, IL at Soto Sound the results of this album will be warmly received from fans of the blues and particularly the style of post-war blues from harp masters such as Sonny Boy Williamson I & II, DeFord Bailey and Little Walter. Red's own rough-and-tumble harmonica style on "Who's That Lurkin'" pays homage to Sonny Boy Williamson II (Rice Miller), while she trades licks with Wolworth's harrowing guitar on an engaging cover of Howlin' Wolf's "Who's Been Talkin' (which was also earlier revisited by Robert Cray on his 1980 debut album of the same name.) While the band also delivers a soulful rendering of West Coast R&B musician Floyd Dixon's "Hard Livin' Alone," with Red offering up one of her most sexy and sultry vocal deliveries put to disc, it should be noted that these are the only two cover songs on the collection.
One of the strengths of this record, in fact, aside from the high caliber of musicianship throughout, is the songwriting. Of the eight numbers penned by Wolworth and two by Red (including the infectious "A Lil' Somethin,' again featuring an arousing vocal and haunting harp delivery) it's apparent that these two have tapped into to the true soul of the blues (not bad for a couple of white folks from Wisconsin). Building off the foundation of 1950s urban blues compositions, the pair unveils these new numbers that are both timeless and refreshingly invigorating for such an age-old genre.
The Roadsters are further fleshed out with the talents of Chicago blues guitarist Jimmy Johnson (Otis Rush, Freddie King, Magic Sam) who effectively trades off leads between Wolworth's own spirited guitar and Red's earthy harp and husky voice. The backbone of this band is supported by bassist Snapper Mitchum (Son Seals, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Koko Taylor) and drummer David "Tu Sweet" Anderson.
Even with a revolving cast of talented musicians and blues legends from album to album, Jackie 5 & Dime and Geneva Red keep honing their blues style into something more engaging with every release. Hell, no wonder they're getting cocky.
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