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Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans - ‘Stuck With the Blues’
14 tracks; 59 minutes 4 seconds
Styles: Down Home Blues, Rag-Time, Skiffle, Hokum, jump-blues with electric & acoustic guitar, upright bass, fiddle, clarinet, tenor & baritone sax, piano and percussion
Players: Brad Vickers, electric guitar/vocals; Margey Peters, electric bass/fiddle/vocals; Arne Englund, piano/electric guitar; Jim Davis, tenor sax/clarinet; Matt Cowan, baritone sax; Bill Rankin, drums; Dave Gross, upright bass; V.D. King, acoustic guitar/maracas/vocals; Bobby Radcliff, electric guitar.
Those ethnomusicologists Vestapolitans (say it fast three times) have done it again, with their 2nd release ‘Stuck With the Blues’. And by the way, since so many have asked what is a ‘Vestapolitan’, I’ll give it a shot—I’m assuming it’s a clever name for the band of players who embrace old-timey open D tuning and music. I’m sure you can send a FaceBook or Myspace message or an email to find out; they’d love to hear from you!
Much like their 1st release ‘Le Hot Blues’, this second release serves up an even bigger dollop of Blues, Ragtime, Skiffle, Swing, Early Americana Rock-and-Roll and original music that reflects the classics we all love and like to see covered including the stylings of the likes of Tampa Red, Jimmy Reed, Big Bill Broonzy, Jelly Roll Morton, Chuck Berry and beyond. And this time, they use a larger band and broader musical palette. Additionally two of the songs feature special guest, friend and guitarist—Bobby Radcliff (influenced by “Magic Sam” Maghett in the 60’s).
To refresh your memory, Brad Vickers—the leader of this troupe--has played, toured and recorded with a long list of great American blues and roots artists from whom he draws inspiration for his own songs—as evidenced by his original first track, ‘Stuck With the Blues’. Get ready—band mates Jim Davis and Matt Cowan come out blazin’ the tenor and baritone sax with a rock & roll intro alongside Brad’s electric guitar. Arne Englund shows us how it’s done on rock & roll piano and Margey does her thing with harmonic vocals and electric bass.
Move on into Mississippi territory with Track 2 ‘I’m Betting on You’. This time Jim delights us with playful clarinet shout outs as Brad and Margey do that vocal thing they do while the rhythm of the group beats along like a well-oiled jalopy.
Keep that Mississippi feel with some hill country droning in Track 3’s ‘Cold Fish’ and add the enjoyment of Margey on fiddle and Dave Gross on upright bass this time. By the way, this is one of the tracks Bobby Radcliff adds his electric guitar rifts. Love love love the horn solos of tenor and baritone sax! Howlin Wolf would have loved an invite to sit in on this Brad Vickers original!
Chuck Berry inspired Track 5 ‘What About Me’ will have you up and twisting your money maker to classic early rock & roll; enjoy the fancy ivory finger-work of Arne Englund, wow, Arne! And Jim gives us more tenor sax when he jumps into the jam. Keeping the beat is Bill Rankin, laying down the pocket on all the tracks.
Next, get ready for some upbeat Memphis string, jug and brass band inspiration with Brad and Margey’s ‘Vestapol Rag’ instrumental on Track 7. Then slide on into some Jelly Roll Morton with Margey’s lead vocal rendition of ‘Winding Boy’. Pick up the beat with Brad’s favorite Chuck Berry song ‘Jaguar and the Thunderbird’. The band knows how to get you moving with their house-band jam on this one.
Brad’s original Track 10 ‘I Want To Tell You Right Now’ reminds me of ‘I found my thrill on Blueberry Hill’ followed by the same early blues-rock time period sound in Track 11’s ‘Coming and Going’ while Bobby Radcliff adds another layer of fancy electric guitar rifts to Brad’s. Of course, on every track you can just count on my horn section, piano and pocket men!
Margey gets her vagabond on with her original ‘Hobo Jungle’ on Track 12. She can write, sing and scratch out a mean fiddle diddy. With her original ‘They Gave Us the Blues’, she pays homage to some of the old masters and legends, using a radio-commentator voice over in between lyrics as if she was reading from the personal journals of Scrapper Blackwell, Memphis Minnie (‘Won’t You Be My Chauffer’) and Tampa Red.
And end the CD with Jimmy Reed’s ‘I’m A Love You’, a jumped up version with all the players in the house, including V.D. King and Dave Gross.
What I like about this group is they are the real deal blues-early-rock-and-roll torch carriers, vowing to keep American’s Modern Music and history alive and strong every time they go into the studio. You can always, 100% of the time, count on strong jam interludes, blazing horns, a showcasing of every individual and their instrument (no one will go ‘unnoticed’ because they all are equally talented) and a consistent danceable, boogie-woogie, foot-tapping, thigh slapping cacophony on every track. This is their gift to you, and to the world. Thank you Brad Vickers & your Vestapolitans. Keep up the good work!
Reviewer Belinda Foster is a Web-TV Host for www.greenvillehd.com, a Columnist and Contributing Writer for Greenville SC Magazine “Industry Mag” and former manager of Mac Arnold & Plate Full O’Blues. She is a devoted promoter and support of live blues root music and history, making frequent trips to Clarksdale MS and the Delta Region. Her column “The Upstate Blues Report can be found on line at www.mega-scene.com.
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