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Becki Sue and her Big Rockin’ Daddies
Big City Blues

Review by Rob Paullin

If you thought the only music to ever come out of the Pacific Northwest was grunge—and Kenny G—think again. There is a thriving blues scene out in them thar parts, anchored in Seattle’s legendary Pioneer Square (Seriously, Ray Charles emerged from the Seattle scene after one seriously long bus ride from the old South). One of the strongest links in that anchor chain is Becki Sue and Her Big Rockin’ Daddies, with their new release, Big City Blues.

This disk is a nice blend of blues, jazz and even a little 50’s style under-the-lamp-post New York street harmony.  Even though Big City Blues is a well-produced studio mix, one can quickly tell the band is enjoying what they are doing, just as might be expected at a live show. 

The band is anchored by the gritty but professional voice of Tumwater, Washington, native Becki Sue. Backing her up are Jim King on harp and tenor sax, Tom Boyle on a variety of guitars, Jeff Hayes on drums and Les White doing his Bill Black thing on the old fashioned stand-up bass. Big City Blues also features the keyboard work of several guest ticklers.

Here’s a quick look at some of the individual tracks…. 

The disk opens up with the Tom Boyle original, “You’re Killin’ Me,” a good rocking soul rouser.  Next is the 50’s classic, “Farmer John,” sung by Jim King.  I hadn’t heard this one in a couple of decades, not even on the oldies stations, and it brought back some fun memories of my long-ago youth. 

King’s crying harp changes the tempo and sets the tone for the Etta James classic, “The Sun is Shining,” with a Becki Sue vocal that reminds one of Janis Joplin and all her vulnerabilities. 

Tom Boyle compliments himself nicely on guitar with his Muddy Waters style original, “Pardon Me,” which also has some clever lyrics voiced nicely by Becky Sue.

Jumping ahead to cut seven, “Soul Serenade,” we come to a Boots Randolph influenced instrumental featuring the fine tenor sax work of Jim King. “Big City Blues” and “If You Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” are two more originals.  “Blues” is a bit simplistic but holds up well enough thanks to a fine harp solo.  “Sweetheart” is a jazz-style sales pitch to a lover who will not let Becki Sue close the deal.   

“Maybe,” is a pre-Motown soul tear-jerker with a hint of street-corner harmony and some heavy reverb. 

The final track is “Backstroke,” an instrumental recorded in one take at Clarksdale, Mississippi’s, famous Studio 61 while the band was in town to perform at Morgan Freeman’s Ground Zero Blues Club.

The Big Rockin’ Daddies may not be all that young, especially by Seattle contemporary music standards, but they are clearly having fun, just as you will when you listen to Big City Blues.    CLICK HERE to hear some songs and/or purchase this CD.

Editor's note: This CD also features appearances by special guests Candye Kane, Mitch Woods, Eric "Two Scoops" Moore, Ron Weinstein and Peter Dammann.

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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