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Big Daddy “O” - Used Blues

Rabadash Records

12 tracks

Released last year at the end of April, Big Daddy “O”’s fourth CD is a smoking hot mix of blues offered up by a man who has paid his dues and then some. Owen Tufts is his name, and with thirty-plus years of playing the roadhouses and ten years of CD releases and playing to larger venues with some more exposure he is surely hitting his stride as evidenced here.

Owen is 6’6” and is a huge stage presence. As the name of this CD implies, we get a variety of covers of stuff from the obtuse to the overly familiar. On the overly familiar side is “Johnny B. Goode”; he gives this over done Chuck Berry standard a fresh coat of boogie woogie and swings through it in a different manner than most. The vocals here (and some of the electric guitar play) and throughout remind me of the smoothness and temperament of Duke Robillard. He hits this one with a medium tempo boogie and still swings his way through in about two and a half minutes. “Poor Boy” is a Howlin’ Wolf standard, and he gives this one a low keyed and very toned down delivery. The minimalistic guitar and Steve Gelder’s harp make this one a smooth little cut.

The opening song “Life is Hard” (Fred James) swings with Big Daddy’s soulful vocals and guitar, John Autin’s B3 and Tim Ernest’s tenor sax work which I really enjoyed. Delbert McClinton’s “Better Off With The Blues” follows and is a thoughtful cover with a nice guitar and B3 solo. He also does McClinton’s “Some Kind of Crazy” which is much more up tempo and upbeat. Gelder on harp adds a very nice dimension to this one. “Soul Fixin’ Man” is a hot track with a somewhat breathy set of vocals and jumping beat. Owen trades licks and solos with Autin in a nicely done cut. Rockin’ Jake offers up some solemn and soulful harp on “All OF Your Stories”, a slow and contemplative ballad.

Clapton’s “Something Special” overlays Tuft’s acoustic guitar work in a nice package. I also need to shout out about “Need Your Love So Bad”; supporting vocals by Cherrie Mannino, baritone sax by Sam Skelton, Trombone by Eric Alexander, and Miles Mannino on trumpet make this one a rousing and impressive performance on top of Big Daddy’s great work. This is all great stuff and the accompanying players all do a great job. Cassandra Faulconer is steady on bass, and drummer Doug Belote (and Shawn Manguno on drums for “Need Your Love…”) back Tufts tightly and professionally.

Big Daddy gives a very impressive performance top to bottom. No clinkers here; it’s all very well done and it is a fun set of tunes to groove to. I enjoyed this CD and think anyone who likes swinging blues will, too.

Reviewer Steve Jones is secretary of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL

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