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Eric “Guitar” Davis & The Troublemakers - Trouble Makin’ Man

Young Blues Records

10 songs; 42:17 minutes; Suggested

Styles: Blues Rock with mixes of Gospel, Soul, R&B, Jazz, and Funk

When an artist has “Guitar” for a middle name, expect from his CD _?_.

A) String bending, metal shredding, fret-board fireworks and histrionics
B) Songs emphasizing lead vocals
C) Full band production numbers, with horns
D) Plenty of background vocals and harmonies
E) All of the above

Well, I pre-judged Choice A. To my complete surprise, what I got was Choice E. The south side of Chicago’s Eric Davis has created a complex CD reflecting true song craftsmanship. This CD, with nine out ten self-penned songs, is far from a power trio wanking on endlessly. Featuring tunes averaging around four minutes, Davis’ release has no less than 14 guest artists ranging from Ronnie Baker Brooks to help with, indeed, fret-board fireworks to Big James Montgomery adding trombone to Andrea Miologos adding incredible vocal harmonies.

Davis is being touted as “a new era of the Blues Chicago style.” His live shows are famously high energy, and publicity agents are saying, “This CD is the New Generation of the Blues at its best.” Davis’s vocals are emotive and sufficient and getting better with experience. In last week’s interview with Terry Mullins in Blues Blast Magazine’s Issue 5-42; October 21, 2011, Davis revealed, “I’ve never really thought that I could sing. But as a bandleader, I wasn’t afraid to step up to the mike and sing. I knew I had to.... That was the only way I was ever going to be able to learn to sing. And right now today, I’m very comfortable about what I’ve been able to achieve vocal-wise.”
The CD kicks off with the title track “Trouble Makin' Man.” Being more akin to Rock and Roll than Blues, it’s full of zest and lightning-fast shredding. This song demonstrates to fans why his middle name is “Guitar.” Trombonist Big James, trumpet player Charles Pryor, and saxophonist Destiny Pivonka also prominently Funk it up. Davis asserts that "causin' trouble's what I like," from "your town" all the way to Chicago, Tennessee, and even New Orleans! Davis almost gets into FCC trouble twice when he smugly boasts, “I'm about to turn this mother--aah...” It may not satisfy blues purists, but most listeners will have no trouble feeling energized by “Trouble Makin' Man!”

Track 3, “You're Goin' Down,” is our fist taste of Davis’s incredible and diverse artistry. Blending R&B elements and even a little Latin flavoring, Davis proves that his instrument of choice is not only wild, but can be sweetly ominous. Rarely has a warning so sharp, from a wronged lover to his errant sweetheart, sounded so poignant. “You're bragging to your friends about the money I give you, and the car I just bought you last week. You have sold your soul for the devil's own gold. Now it's time I put you back on your feet,” Davis admonishes, his voice roiling with passion. “You're going down, down, down, down!” Ron Moten's keyboard notes cascade like summer evening raindrops on the sidewalk and combine with the caressing flames of Davis's guitar. They're snaking tendrils from the place where lost souls go when they fall.

Track 7, “Dolla Queen,” has a caveat emptor: let the buyer beware, but in this case, let the club-goer beware. A gold digger is on the prowl: “She'll let you buy her a drink, make you think you'll get a little more, but that's all you're gonna get without a damn good credit score!... She's on the scene, looking for that mean, mean green.” Guest star Ronnie Baker Brooks licks his chops and devours his guitar on the solo in the middle, laced with hot sauce and just a splash of acid! He and Eric Davis exchange guitar licks, warnings, and lustful yearnings between verses. “You see that girl at the bar, man?” “Yeah, I see her, but you're gonna need to pay if you mess with her!” Will they yield? Only time will tell, and a few more repetitions of this riveting guilty-pleasure song! Ronnie Baker Brooks co-wrote and co-produced this one.

For fans of classic Electric Blues sounds, Davis still delivers the goods on songs like “Ew-Wee.” The only cover, Jimmy Burns’s “No Consideration” is given a Gospel feel completely emphasizing vocals and harmony. “Days Of My Life” is a nice R&B-tinged Blues track with a hypnotic rhythm.

Eric “Guitar” Davis started his early music career as a drummer. A chance encounter with Buddy Guy at the original Checkerboard Lounge resulted in Guy showing Davis his first chord on the guitar. Davis currently plays in and around Chicago and around the world with his band, The Troublemakers.

I know not to judge a book by its cover, and now I know not to judge an artist by his name. Pick this one up and enjoy Davis’s deft and diverse artistry. He may or may not be the future, but he is the here and now for damn sure!

Amy Walker contributed to this review.

Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at in Kankakee, IL. Amy Walker contributed to this review. To See James “Skyy Dobro” Walker's CD rating system, CLICK HERE.

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