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The Duke Robillard Band - Low Down and Tore Up

Stony Plain Records

This is the CD I’ve always wished Duke Robillard would make. While I’ve enjoyed many of his prior 17 Stony Plain releases, this strong focus on electric Chicago blues on this 14 song set is cause for a real blues celebration.

We’ve got a great cover of Eddie Taylor’s “Trainfare Home” and the CD honors Tampa Red’s “Let Me Play with Your Poodle” and “Mercy, Mercy Mama” with Gordon “Sax” Beadle on sax, Bruce Bears and Matt McCabe on keyboards, Brad Hallen on bass, and Mark Teixera on drums. Together, they infuse the CD with the post-war Chicago style of J.T. Brown, Eddie Shaw, and Eddie Jones.

Two songs evoke Elmore James and his Broomdusters eloquently: “The 12 Year Old Boy” and “Tool Bag Boogie” instrumental. Each of these nods to Elmore and company take me me back to the first time I heard the LP re-release of “Whose Muddy Shoes,” one of my early blues reference points that holds up to this day.

While there’s Chicago blues aplenty on Low Down and Tore Up, I also appreciate the way the band captures the timeless “Blues After Hours” from Pee Wee Crayton. Producer and blues historian Dick Shurman contributes some encyclopedic liner notes about a set of tunes, in Duke’s words, that “were truly beautiful inspired abandon and real lowdown blues.”

Low Down and Tore Up is a collection of inspired interpretations of some well known, and not so-well known blues songs that show another side of the incredibly talented Duke Robillard.

Reviewer Eric Steiner is President of the Washington Blues Society in Seattle, Washington. The Society was the recipient of the 2009 Keeping the Blues Alive Award in the blues organization category. Please visit for more information on the Washington Blues Society.

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