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Dave Riley and Bob Corritore - Lucky to Be Living

Blue Witch Records

10 songs; 41:27 minutes; Library Quality - Style: Delta Blues; Mississippi to Chicago Blues

Man: Hey Baby, check me out.
Woman: Ooh, you dressed so fine, and I like the way you walk.
Man: I like your style, too. Let’s me and you go do something.
Woman: Well, maybe. Where’s your car?
Man: Honey, I ain’t got no car.
Woman: What? You must think I’m a fool. See you later, Chump!

The moral of this story: Even “a raggedy ride beats a sharp stride, every single day of the year!”

This made up dialogue is based on, “Automobile,” the last song on Dave Riley and Bob Corritore’s new CD, “Lucky to Be Living.” I have smiled every time I have heard Dave Riley play this song live. Written by his friend Fred James, it was recorded on Riley’s solo CD “Living on Borrowed Time” in 2000, (now hard to find), but this version with Bob Corritore on harmonica and high quality, in-studio recording is the finest. It is typical of the first rate traditional Blues found on the entire CD.

“Lucky to Be Living” is basically a joyous Volume 2 of this duo’s wonderful 2007 release, “Travelin’ the Dirt Road,” which received both BBMA and BMA nominations. Produced by Chicago raised, but now Phoenix-based, Bob Corritore, a prolific, Grammy-nominated producer in addition to club owner and radio host, “Lucky to Be Living” features four original songs by Riley, who handles guitar and vocals. Besides James’ “Automobile,” five other songs were created by the late Jelly Roll Kings Frank Frost and John Weston, Riley’s friends and former band mates. Studio guests are Riley’s son Dave Jr. and Patrick Rynn on bass, Chris James on second guitar, Henry Gray – piano, and Tom Coulson, Eddie Kobek, and Frank Rossi – drums.

“Lucky to Be Living” is a thoroughly enjoyable album of Mississippi to Chicago styled blues – a purist’s delight. The songs feature Riley’s wonderfully gruff and powerful, world-weary voice and an understated but tone-rich guitar style. Corritore matches Riley with experience-inspired harp played over, under, around, and through Riley’s guitar and vocals.

Born in 1949 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Riley brings real-deal experiences to his art: picking cotton, Chicago habitation near Maxwell Street, combat duty in Vietnam, working as a Joliet prison guard in the “tombs” segregation unit of death row, and alcohol and substance abuse and recovery.

Three of Riley’s experiences provide the title and title track for the CD, “Lucky to Be Living.” Riley is telling the truth when he sings that he is “lucky to be living” as he has been “shot with a pistol and had his neck broke twice” (near fatal car wrecks).

In addition to the two above mentioned songs, other standouts are the piano laced romp, “Let’s Get Together,” the virtuosic harmonica on “The Things You Do,” and the slow Blues trip through ugly history, “Sharecropper Blues.”

This CD and its predecessor reveal that Riley and Corritore’s formula of knowledge, experience, mischievous fun, and respect for the deep roots and traditional Blues music is a winning one. Their power and zeal is now loved internationally, turning them a hot commodity. A visit to tour schedules on their websites reveals gigs in Spain, France, Switzerland, California, Southern States, and the upcoming Arkansas Blues & Heritage Festival (formerly King Biscuit) in Helena, October 9 -10.

They’re “Lucky to Be Living,” and we’re lucky to be listening.

Reviewer James “Skyy Dobro” Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show “Friends of the Blues” can be heard each Thursday from 4:30 – 6:00pm on WKCC 91.1 FM in Kankakee, IL
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