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Franc Robert & The Boxcar Tourists - Mulligan Stew


12 tracks

Franc Robert & The Box Car Tourists are a solid set of musicians who play a variety of styles of original blues tunes. Robert pens all the songs for the band, plays all the guitars and fronts the band. Trent Sholl on bass and Dave Simmons on drums also provide backing vocals. Lee Pons on keys and Smokin’ Joe Sadowski on harp also lend a hand to the effort. The songs present a good mix of blues styles, and Franc plays his guitars (from acoustic and electric to lap steel) with great dexterity. The band is tight and in a good zone throughout, giving us a dozen nice performances.

“Let’s Go Jukin’” and “The Devil at Your Door” are two cuts made available for radio download. “Jukin’” opens the CD and is a rousing party time cut. The band bounces and boogies through this one in a big manner. “Devil” is at the other end of the spectrum, a subdued acoustic cut that highlight’s Robert’s finger picking. “Lay My Body Down” an “It’s Morning Time” also showcase Robert’s acoustic talents.

The lap steel gets showcased early on “Coal Burnin’ Locomotive,” a hot, driving track with big rocking guitar and a head banging beat. The heat from the coal here is intense, and it’s my favorite song on the CD. Monster guitar, a thumping beat and just a lot of fun. The title track verges on rockabilly with some more nice guitar work. “Ya Can’t Have Nothin” is slow blues done up spicy and hot. “You Worry Me” hops and bounces about, another good dance tune with slip sliding guitar and harp and vocals trading off well.

If I have one complaint it’s in the vocal mix. Robert’s vocals sound a little nasal, breathy and at times like he is gasping for air. I suspect that his live sound is a bit more realistic. Despite that, this is a pretty intense album of rocking blues. For those who like a big guitar sound, a big backline and greasy harp, you’ll get a kick out of this Tampa Bay area bands’ latest release!

Reviewer Steve Jones is president of the Crossroads Blues Society and is a long standing blues lover. He is a retired Navy commander who served his entire career in nuclear submarines. In addition to working in his civilian career since 1996, he writes for and publishes the bi-monthly newsletter for Crossroads, chairs their music festival and work with their Blues In The Schools program. He resides in Byron, IL.

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