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The Billy Gibson Band - Live At Rum Boogie Café

Daddy-O Records

Eric Steiner’s Rating: Highly Recommended, Reference Quality

I’m pretty biased about Billy Gibson. Let me say that right up front. Each time I’ve seen The Billy Gibson Band live in Memphis, or Billy himself at this year’s St. John Blues Festival in the US Virgin Islands, I’ve been floored by Billy’s showmanship, mastery of the Mississippi saxophone, and his deep knowledge of the vocabulary of the blues.

This CD features Billy Gibson, a nominee for “Newcomer of the Year” at the Blues Music Awards last year playing in the 2007 Keeping the Blues Alive Award venue, Rum Boogie. Is this a recipe for blues success or what?

That said, I am wild about this set recorded live at the Rum Boogie Café on Beale Street in Memphis. There’s eight long jams to satisfy your harp-fueled blues jones on this CD, and each track gives bandleader (and harpman) Billy Gibson opportunities to strut his considerable harp chops. Listen to Billy’s interpretation of Willie Dixon’s “Pretty Thing” or Eddie Taylor’s “Bad Boy,” and you’ll know that he’s studied the elders of the blues and reinterpreted them anew. “Bad Boy” is also on Billy’s DVD, Live at the North Atlantic Blues Festival, and I highly recommend that set also. Live at Rum Boogie closes with a spot-on cover of “Polk Salad Annie,” and while songwriter Tony Joe White is considered by many to be the “King of Cool” for that oft-covered American chestnut, I’ll suggest to his royal highness that Mr. Billy Gibson rightfully take his place as the Prince of Cool for the way he reinterprets this classic tune with blues riffs to spare.

Reviewer Eric Steiner is the President of the Washington Blues Society. The Washington Blues Society is the proud recipient of a 2009 Keeping the Blues Alive Award from the Blues Foundation

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