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Frankie Lee’s Blues Mission - Sleepin’ Dog

Self Release


Georgia native Frankie Lee Robinson and his Blues Mission inject their blues with a refreshing dose of jazz, R&B and gospel that takes the listener on an upbeat ride. His more than pleasant voice and guitar skills bring Robert Cray to mind, but with more jazz leanings. Frankie switches from jazzy chording to single-string blues runs all within a solo, moving the music along seamlessly, and if I dare say, with a “peppy” and swinging rhythm section. The occasional keyboards of Martin Kearnes accentuate the upbeat vibe. Seven band originals, including three instrumentals, fit nicely alongside four cover tunes given the Blues Mission treatment. The guitar playing is at times familiar and driving without going the “hey look at me” rout.

Enough personal nuances are added to the sound to catch your ear playing after playing. Drummer Alfonso Largo and bass player Kermit J. Maxwell are there at every turn. The soothing vocals lend themselves to the groove-infused music, well showcased on the lead-in track “I’m So Lonely Since You’re Gone”. “Lyin’ Thinkin” is infused with a mellow Robert Cray groove replete with jazzy chording as it comments on life’s hardships. Shuffle drumming propels the title track, along with the harmonica shadings of Vince Alexander. Organ-fueled R&B lilts along hand-in-hand as jazzy guitar flourishes float through the original parable played out in “I Need Me Some You”.

Cover songs here are given new life, as best witnessed in a reworking of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Who Been Talkin’”, reinvented as a mellow rumba. B.B. King’s “Woke Up This Morning” begins life with a syncopated mambo groove and soon shifts into a romping swing workout. Robinson’s playing reveals T-Bone Walker’s influence in his jazzy style. “Five Long Years” and “When A Guitar Plays The Blues” are given pretty straight but mellower readings.

Three original instrumentals shine light on the band’s groove-skills. “Soul Shuffle” sounds like Booker T & The M.G.’s “taking us to church” in a land were gospel-meets-the blues. T-Bone’s ghost once more appears in the jazzy romp of “Blues For C.K.”. An upright bass starts us strolling down “McDaniel Street” and “Bone” once again rears his head alongside the jazz piano stylings.

For anyone harboring the notion that blues music is “downer music”, take a tip and give this toe-tapper of a record a spin and come out a believer. Frankie Lee and crew put enough of themselves in their music to give it a life of its own. Fans of goodtime vibes, Robert Cray and T-Bone Walker will derive hours of listening enjoyment from this offering.

Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony is from the New Jersey Delta. He is the proprietor of Bluesdog’s Doghouse at

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