The Beat Daddys - Live at the Quincy Blues Fest 2007
Independent Release/Crippled Frog Music BMI
14 songs; 67:26; Suggested
Style: Blues-rock/Southern blues-rock
As I sat and pondered, weak and weary,
the weather outside, bleak and bleary,
Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December......Ok, that is enough of waxing POE- etic. But, the blowing snow propelled by a strong wind created layers of ice in the scene out my window. It is our first winter blast here in central Illinois, depressingly on an Autumn day, December 1. Pleasant memories of summer fun at blues festivals automatically flowed.
More than memories were needed to warm the cowbells of my heart, however. That is what made this album by the Beat Daddys so perfect for the occasion. Recorded live at the Quincy IL Blues Festival in the summer of 2007, the upbeat fun just exploded from the speakers, warming the room.
Featuring nine original songs of the fourteen presented, the CD opens, following the stage introduction, with Tommy Stillwell’s lead electric guitar sounding like he was fully warmed up, not playing the first song of a set. By a buck-thirty into “She’s All That,” lead singer Larry Grisham sings powerfully in a voice made to sing the blues while adding guitar licks of his own.
As the applause wanes, Jeremy Clement’s drums establish a steady rhythm for Stillwell’s slide guitar to rip a new hole in the ozone layer. Here on “Train in the Distance,” and throughout the CD, Jon Rochner plays absolutely masterful bass. With about a minute left, Grisham whips out his harmonica to completely seal the deal – this is a summer blues party! (2008 Note: current drum duties are provided by Dave Sappington.)
By the third song, Grisham doesn’t wait for the applause to end; he opens a cappella, “I met a f-i-i-n-n-e beautician; in very f-i-n-e condition....” The band jumps in, popping, on BB King’s “Beautician Blues” for a fun romp.
Next, just to see if anyone was sober enough to pay attention, they played a mid tempo blues version of the theme song from the old Beverly Hillbillies television show! Intermingling with two ripping guitar solos in the middle sandwiched around a harp solo, Grisham pours out the original lyrics, verbatim. Who woulda thunk it? But, didn’t I say right up front this is a “fun CD”?
Slow blues with a sad story? Sure, the Beat Daddys next play an, “Pale White Circle” referring to the missing wedding ring on the protagonist’s finger. Requisite mournful guitar solos pour out, but Rochner’s bass lines steal the show.
Ok, enough of that slow stuff; the up tempo track six, “Beg Borrow Steal” rips open with wailing harmonica underpinned by Rochner’s bass and Clement’s drums. After a Stillwell guitar solo, Grisham sings the lyrics, “Beg Borrow Steal” that is somewhat reminiscent of “Flip Flop Fly.”
By mid-set, the boys throw down Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Sloppy Drunk,” followed by audibly obvious crowd pleasers by Hendrix, “Hey Joe” and “Little Wing” featuring Stillwell’s scorching guitar.
Grisham and Stillwell played together near Evansville in southern Indiana in 1970. Stillwell's first lasting exposure to the blues came in 1972, as a 17-year-old at a music festival at Bull Island, near Griffin, IN. He became inspired watching blues legend Albert King. (Anyone remember Bull Island? My wife and I were there, too.)
The Beat Daddys’ legend spread from Southern Indiana well into the deep South. They opened shows in the Mississippi Delta for such blues luminaries as Johnny Winter and B.B. King. They signed a recording contract with Waldoxy, a subsidiary of Malaco, a respected Jackson MS, blues and gospel label. The Beat Daddys' first two records for Waldoxy were 1992’s "No, We Ain’t From Clarksdale," and 1994’s "South to Mississippi." Their first independent album, however, "Houserocking Rhythm and Blues" in 1989, is much truer to their live sound.
For blues-rockers, The Beat Daddys may not be doing anything new, but what they do is done incredibly and energetically well. This is a summer set that thankfully got recorded by the good folks of the Mid-Mississippi Muddy Waters Blues Society. Give their CD a try, and see if it doesn’t just melt away those winter doldrums for you, too.
Reviewer James “Skyy Dobro” Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show “Friends of the Blues” can be heard each Thursday from 4:30 – 6:00pm on WKCC 91.1 FM in Kankakee, IL