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Jimmy Thackery & JP Soars - As Live as it Gets

White River, Jamthack, Inc. and Jordimax Music (BMI)

CD 1: 5 songs; 47:32 minutes

CD 2: 4 songs; 46:25 minutes

Styles: Traditional and Modern Electric Blues with Horns

On the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise in October 2011, two outstanding guitarists made big waves! D.C. veteran Jimmy Thackery and JP Soars, winner of the 2009 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, teamed up to produce a 2-CD album that’s “As Live as it Gets.” In over 90 minutes of music, there are only a total of nine songs (four originals and five covers). The reason for this is clear once one remembers Thackery and Soars’ venue. Because they’re performing a live concert on the Blues Cruise, this album’s dynamics are far different from one recorded in a studio. These talented bluesmen play lengthy guitar riffs and horn solos (one song is 20 minutes) to please the crowd and provide ambient music for everyone’s on-board merriment. That said, here are the three best tracks with their three best aspects:

Track 01: “A Letter to my Girlfriend”--JP Soars and the Hydraulic Horns propel this Eddie “Guitar Slim” Jones cover to the beginning of the album with jazzy aplomb. It has all of the characteristics an opening number should: catchiness, energy, and the perfect length for Jimmy Thackery and tenor saxophonist Joe McGlohon’s solos in the middle. Even though the lyrics are pleasantly bouncy in and of themselves, listeners should “read between the lines” and lose themselves in all the passion that the instruments provide!

Track 02: “Blind Man (In the Night)”--Originally featured on Thackery’s “Feel the Heat” album, this ballad of a man lost without his love is most notable for its riveting guitar intro and lyrics: “I can’t stand to watch the sunset. It doesn’t thrill me anymore. You know, it always makes me wonder who it was that you left me for….” In terms of intensity, this slow-blues masterpiece is unmatched--the crowning glory of these two CDs.

Track 08: “Hobart’s Blues”--Thackery’s original instrumental is perfect for cruising, whether on a boat or in a car! No single musician can be pointed out as the “star” here, because all of them are in top form and give 110% in the course of their performance. No wonder the crowd cheers before the song’s over: they’re thrilled with what they’ve heard so far and can’t wait for more!

Accompanying Thackery and Soars on the Blues Cruise and this album are Mark “Bumpy Rhoades” Bumgarner on bass, George “Bam Bam” Sheppard on drums, Joe McGlohon on tenor sax, and Jim Spake on baritone sax. All of them are “As Live as it Gets,” as fans of guitar and horn expertise will attest!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 32 year old female Blues fan. She brings the perspective of a younger blues fan to reviews. A child of 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.

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