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Second Breath - Save The Blues

Lemma Records

Imagine yourself five thousand miles from home, living in a small isolated town somewhere in the farm and hill country of western Ukraine. This was my situation in 2002 while serving as a member of the Peace Corps. After a year of teaching and working in my adopted community, I visited the Ukrainian capitol of Kyiv and in my wanderings of the city center, I came upon…. Buddy Guy’s Night Club! Imagine my surprise at seeing the flashing sign for the night club of an American icon such as Buddy Guy, so far away from Wabash Street.

Not knowing what to expect, my American and new Ukrainian friends and I none-the-less immediately laid down the two dollar (seriously!) admission fee and were shown to a table near the band stand.

On stage were several Ukrainian musicians playing dead-on, note-perfect American blues. At the first intermission I introduced myself to them--or at least to the two of them that spoke some English—and learned that despite their expertise at copying the music of the American blues masters, they really didn’t know much about the American urban and delta colloquial words and phrases they were singing.
Over the next year I became good friends with singer/guitarist Volodymyr Herasymovych, guitarist Olesander Kuznetsov, bassist and harmonica whiz Hryhoriv Makhno and drummer Valeriy Latanyuk.

Now, six years later the Second Breath Blues Band has released a CD titled Save The Blues, and it’s every bit as good as I remember the band from my time in Ukraine (Indeed, drummer Latanyak is also the dummer for the national radio station jazz band and for the pit orchestra at the Ukrainian national opera.).

The disk starts off with an original instrumental that offers up blues, jazz and even some country influence. Next is a solid cover of Billy Boy Arnold’s “Ain’t Got You,” followed by the Door’s, “Roadhouse Blues.” The Doors on a blues disk was a surprise to me, but it actually works pretty well.
Next is the title song, a Volodymyr Herasymovych original named, “Save the Blues.” The lyrics will surprise you, focusing not on saving the music, but rather on how to avoid feeling blue in life.

Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen,” is next, a solid rocker, followed by the McClinton-esk “Why People Like That?” “Mannish Boy” starts with a guitar riff that will remind you of ZZ Top, then comes the very blusy “It Hurts Me Too.”
Another original, and much more blusy, instrumental leads into the final original, “I Like to Walk.”

The band next pays tribute to the master, with an outstanding cover of Buddy Guy’s, “Let Me Love You Baby,” followed by Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “The House is Rocking.” They close out the CD with the classic blues rocker, “Got My Mojo Working,” a song with special meaning for me as it’s one of the ones I happily explained to them the lyrics, over several shots of local vodka….

Herasymovych is an outstanding guitarist in the truest blues tradition and his riffs play well off those of Kyznetsov. Makhno adds some sold bass work and unbelievable harp action to Save The blues.

Had they asked, I probably would have told them not to start off with a soft instrumental, and I would have dumped the Chuck Berry tune completely, but if you’re a lover of variety in your blues—and your blues bands—this one is definitely worth the shipping costs from Ukraine. Two Slavutich bottles up for Save The Blues!

To order this CD you can CLICK HERE

Rob Paullin is a former Memphis radio guy . Rob has sampled the blues in Venice, Kyiv and Beijing, among other foreign haunts.  He says Berlin is next on his list.

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