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Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne – An Old Rock On A Roll

Stony Plain Records

13 tracks; 53.51 minutes

I imagine that everyone has a ‘dream team’ of musicians that we would like to see in action and, for me, this CD achieves that. Master guitarist Duke Robillard is on board as a player and in the producer’s chair - I have no idea how Duke manages to contribute to so many wonderful records and still find time to tour as well! Duke has assembled a great set of musicians for this CD including a quartet of horn players: Doug James on baritone sax, Doug Woolverton on trumpet and Carl Querforth on trombone are all present or former members of Roomful Of Blues and they are joined on tenor by Sax Gordon Beadle. Duke’s regular rhythm section of drummer Mark Teixeira and bassist Brad Halle appear and there is also some tasty organ accompaniment that is not credited in the sleeve notes – possibly either Bruce Bears or Bruce Katz, both of whom are regular contributors to Duke’s records. That leaves the star of this show to handle all the piano playing and vocals.

Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne has been around for some years, gaining a reputation as a strong pianist, singer and composer. He was born in the USA but has made British Columbia in Canada his home since the 1980s. After a gap of some years since his last recording this is his debut on Stony Plain. All the material on the CD is original and there is a great deal to enjoy throughout. Kenny has a clear and pleasing voice and writes some interesting songs. The CD opens in rocking style with “Searching For My Baby”, Kenny’s piano right up front in the mix. Duke’s economical guitar is a joy on this track and he also takes a well-deserved solo. The horns come to the fore on track two “Fantasy Meets Reality”, another stomper with a nice lyrical touch in the line “If you don’t know me, how do you know how I feel? So take the time to listen to my ordeal.”

After two rockers we get some real blues on “Heaven, Send Me An Angel”, one of those stories that starts out in a bar with the author feeling sorry for himself and not getting much of a positive response from his fellow customers. More wonderful piano and guitar interplay to enjoy here. “Devil Woman” finds Kenny in a tricky situation – “Didn’t you read that contract that you and I agreed?” – with a woman who won’t let him go. The title track follows, a catchy tune with a wild tenor solo at its heart.

“Don’t Pretend” is a blues ballad with some excellent piano playing and relaxed accompaniment from Duke and the rhythm section. “Run Little Joe” takes us down to New Orleans, the piano and drums laying down the rhythm and the horns filling out the chorus. “Howlin’” is a mid-paced love song in which Duke’s guitar is a classic example of how to accompany a song without overpowering. “Wild Turkey 101 Proof” is an amusing song about drinking (or over-drinking in fact!) – “If you think that you are Superman and ignore this thought-out plan you’ll wake up drunk in your sack with that whisky bird on your back.” More great rolling piano here.

“Bring Back The Love” is a ballad with the horns in full flow supporting Kenny’s tender vocal of lost love. “Way Overdue” swings like crazy from start to finish, with Duke’s superb guitar playing and Kenny’s sparkling piano solo. The CD closes with two exciting pieces. “Rocking Boogie Party” does exactly what the title suggests, a short but sweet blast of boogie and rock and roll whilst “Give Thanks” closes the disc with a fast paced instrumental driven along by the rocking drums, percolating organ, Kenny’s pounding piano and Duke’s fast picking on the outro.

I really enjoyed this CD and can recommend it without reservation to anyone who enjoys well-crafted songs and great musicianship.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music and is currently planning his trip to the Blues Blast Awards in October.

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