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Big Pete Pearson and The Gamblers - Choose

Modesto Blues Records


Born in Jamaica and raised up in Austin, Texas Big Pete eventually established himself as Arizona’s King Of The Blues. He played his first gig at the age of nine at The Triple J, an Austin juke joint, unbeknownst to his grandparents who thought he was playing guitar and singing with a spiritual group at the church. He’s been playing the blues with various bands since then for sixty-seven years. Blues seems to run in the family, as he was a mentor to his cousin W.C. Clark. Big Pete’s large and gruff voice sounds like the blues. On this, his first recording with his Italian band The Gamblers he receives sturdy backing with a sound rooted in the deep blues. There must be something in the pasta…these guys nail an authentic blues sound with licks to spare. This is all done with guitar, bass, drums and piano. No additional musicians are used. The resulting stripped down approach is refreshing. Thankfully the guys are allowed to stretch out and show what they can do. And they do it in grand style. Pete wrote all but one of the tunes. The other was contributed by the band’s Guitar Ray Scona.

The jaunty groove of “Travelin’ Man” gets things moving along with lively piano and hints of the guitar goodness yet to come. “I’m a travelin’ man, but I think I’m headin’ for a dead end.” This fits well into the pantheon of blues road songs, as guitar and piano are given breathing room. “Hole In My Pocket” unfurls as a tale of getting one’s heart broken, taken at a slow pace. The title song reflects on decisions the narrator must make. Guitar Ray gets his first chance to shine here as he unleashes licks recalling Freddy and Albert King. His arsenal of blues guitar licks seems endless. Piano player Henry Carpaneto also gets to show off his Chicago style on the “88’s”. “Gambler’s Groove”, Guitar Ray’s songwriting contribution, is an instrumental with commentary and coaching supplied by Big Pete. It has a late night feel with able backing of the rhythm section, as Ray and Henry unearth Chicago style grooves that would make the masters of the blues proud. Ray unveils his adequate slide guitar skills on “Hard Times”. A tom-tom beat leads into “Mini Skirt”, an appreciation of the feminine form. “Slippery When Wet” ventures into risqué territory without crossing the line. The only minor misstep is on Guitar Ray’s vocal on “The Love You Don’t Have”, were his accent makes it hard to understand some of the lyrics.

Big Pete’s warm and booming voice backed up by a band that knows its way around the blues makes for a soothing musical experience. Their no-frills sound must approximate the live experience. A sound that is rooted in the blues basics like this should have the blues Gods smiling in that juke joint in the sky.

Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta.

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