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Big Joe Shelton - Black Prairie Blues

Hey blues lovers; have I got a CD for you!  Want to go to an authentic Mississippi juke joint with ribs, cat whiskey and blues? Pick up Big Joe Shelton’s latest CD: Black Prairie Blues.  You’ll be transported to the northeast, “Black Prairie Region” of the Mississippi blues trail in a heartbeat. Every song has a killer feel, powered by a solid rhythm section featuring bassist Ean Evans (Lynyrd Skynyrd, Outlaws) and drummer Bryan Owings (Delbert McClinton, Amazing Rhythm Aces).  This CD is electric, driving blues with a Southern barrel house feel.  

You’ll get your hard earned dollars worth on this 15 song CD.  Joe wrote or co-wrote every cut, which makes him a triple threat: singer, song writer and Mississippi saxophonist.  Being from Chicago, I didn’t know what a Mississippi Saxophone was.  It’s a blues harp and oh boy, can Big Joe work those reeds!  Joe’s sound favors the big, fat harp sounds of Little Walter and James Cotton.  And why shouldn’t it? After all, he moved from the deep South to Chicago in the 70’s, where he honed his blues licks listening to Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy and the flourishing Old Town Chicago blues scene from Maxwell Street to the South Side.

Joe’s vocals remind me of the growling sound of Howlin’ Wolf’s six-foot-four delivery.  No Bee Gee’s falsetto on this album!  You’ll hear plenty of honest, dig down and bare-your-soul BLUES.  The listener will surely find lyrics they can relate to on this real life tapestry of life.    

Haven’t we all been at a relationship “crossroads” and anguished over track 15’s simple question: “If you don’t want me, be a woman and tell me so.  I’ll just pack my things and go.”  This track is punctuated by Edwin Daniel’s, six string pentatonic perfection. Instrumental performances are strong on every cut. Other cuts feature Drew Dieckmann’s tasteful blend of Clapton-meets-Cropper guitar riffs and Uncle Wayne’s, ”no-doubt-about-it” approach to the blues .  Big Joe immerses himself with top notch musicians like 2003 Living Blues Artist of the Year, Willie King.  Keyboards are perfectly blended by the talents of Bobby Shannon and John Simpson.  The songs are strong and the production is good.

The liner notes and lyrical content reveal Big Joe’s positive message, as illustrated in “Hope we Live to See the Day (… where we love one another like the Good Book says…).  Give this “new” artist (with over 30 years’ experience) a chance.

If you like the electric Delta Blues flavor of R. L. Burnside, Mark Hummel, Slick Ballinger and Jr. Kimbrough, you’ll like Big Joe Shelton

To purchase this CD, CLICK HERE.

Reviewer Bill Porter is the front man for the Bill Porter Project an Illinois based Blues band.

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