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The Snakehandlers Blues Band - Rock plus Roll
11 songs; 42:56 minutes; Splendid
Styles: “Blues Fueled Rock and Roll” and Blues
I’m in the mood for some fun. No, I mean a damn good time. I want to see The Snakehandlers Blues Band live, and not in a concert setting where everyone is sitting politely in nice straight rows. I want to hear them in a rowdy, crowded Midwestern venue where you have to rub against people just to get to the bar. It’ll be a friendly people, get drunk, stomp the floor, dance your shoes off, puke out the car’s back window on the way home good time.
Based in Central Indiana, The Snakehandlers Blues Band is a slice of America. Start with their name, “Snakehandlers.” For me, it conjures unbelievable stories of Tennessee fundamentalists. Then check their song titles: “My Cadillac,” “Slip into the Leather,” “Bad Girls,” “Long-Legged Woman,” and “90 Miles an Hour” – Americana, right? Finally, the themes are the essence of many American Blues songs: cars, women, kinky fantasy, misery, plus, on this debut recording, immoral, rich fat-cats getting their come-uppance (Madoff, et al).
With “Rock plus Roll,” one gets eleven original songs from six musicians with a mountain of experience and an undying love and appreciation for Rhythm, Blues, and Rock and Roll. Songwriter and guitarist Frank Dean and drummer Carl Lo Sasso, both formerly of Sindacato, were the main Snakehandlers’ organizers. Dean brought along Floyd Tucker on bass while Lo Sasso recruited Bob Schneider on keyboards. Cadillac Scott Parkhurst was enlisted for harmonica, and Clint Crabb came on board for Duane Allman / Derek Trucks style slide guitar. Vocals are traded between all but Crabb, and song writing is credited to mainly Dean plus Parkhurst, Schneider, and Lo Sasso.
The opening song, “Bad Girls,” immediately introduces the listener to what the Snakehandlers are all about. The music explodes from the full band with honking harp in the lead. Then the lyrics, this Bad Girl “... screamed just like a banshee / And bit like a borrowed mule / She taught me things I never learned / In any kind of school. ... if it weren’t for bad girls / I’d have me no good times.”
Scott Parkhurst provides harmonica and growled, Tom Waits style vocals on “Ain't Stayin' the Night.” The narrator tells an unfaithful lover that her promises to change are falling on deaf ears: “You got your hand on the Bible, swear you've seen the light. I don't know where you're going, but you sure ain't stayin' the night.” Crabb takes a tasty slide guitar solo at the end.
A slow Blues is my favorite track, “Face Down and Fallin.’” From palpalable misery in the singer’s voice to weeping harp to killer slide guitar, this song will put a tear in your beer.
Ready to Rock? Try the ruckus “Daddy's Little Angel” with guest Gary Woodworth on saxophone. “My Cadillac” is so good one wonders if Parkhurst is on commission from GM. With its call-and-response chorus, the song is American as apple pie and baseball.
In summary: a jealous woman once asked her wandering boyfriend, “What does this other woman have that I don’t have?” His answer, “Nothing, just more of it!” That thinking applies to this Snakehandlers Blues Band CD; you won’t hear anything that other bands don’t have, just roadhouse music with more fervor and gusto.
Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and longtime Blues Blast Magazine contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at www.wkccradio.org in Kankakee, IL. To See James “Skyy Dobro” Walker's CD rating system, CLICK HERETo submit a review or interview please contact: