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Sterling Koch - Slide Ruler

Full Force Music

Available at CD Baby, itunes,

12 Tracks 48mins 33 secs

There was a time when steel guitars were rarely heard outside country music although blues music has had its share of guitarists (the Black Ace, Kokomo Arnold) who played six sting guitars placed flat on their knees. Since the 1990’s there has been an upsurge of lap-steel music with blues roots. This, I think emanates from the appearance (actually identification is a better word as the music has existed in “House of God” churches since the 1930’s) of the genre of gospel music known as Sacred Steel and the off-shoot from that of the likes of Robert Randolph and the Campbell Brothers.

Steel guitars come in many forms – six string, eight string and ten-string – some with double necks, some with pedals and electronic gizmos (pedal steel guitars are the core of 20th century country music). There are some ace players around: Robert Randolph and Darrick Campbell of course; Aubrey Ghent and Sonny Treadway; the winner of this year’s Blues Foundation Award for the Instrumentalist (other) Sonny Rhodes; and the winner of last year’s British Blues Award also for Instrumentalist (other), Alaskan born Son Henry. All these musicians bring a special, and very welcome sound to the blues, for the instrument is capable of great subtlety and in skilful hands, much “Make-the-hair-on-the-back-of-your-neck-stand-up” passion and emotionality. Sterling Koch is right up there with the best!

This CD shows off Sterling’s skills to a tee. The music ranges from the standard instrumental “Sleepwalk” to out and out rockers like, “Taylor Rock” ( a cover of a Hound Dog Taylor original), “If You Want To Rock and Roll” (a song written by 1950s and 60s popster Dion DiMucci) and a Koch original “I’m A Bluesman”. There are shuffles like Peter Green’s “Stop Messin Round” and slow blues like Otis Rush’s “Double Trouble”, Roosevelt Sykes’s “Driving Wheel” and another Koch original, “The Sun Will Shine” all of which are delivered with panache, fire and considerable skill (Koch plays an 8 string steel). Koch is supported throughout by the superb drumming skills of Chet McCracken and by the outstanding bass work of SRV and Johnny Winter alumnus, Tommy Shannon. And, did I mention Koch (pronounced ‘Cook’) sings too. He has a great voice, well suited to his music. His voice reminds me of a cross between Delbert McClinton and Jimmie Vaughan.

This is Sterling Koch’s third solo CD and it deserves the biggest audience it can get. So get on the computer and find a copy. You won’t regret it!

Review Ian McKenzie lives in England. He is the editor of Blues In The South ( a monthly flier providing news, reviews, a gig guide and all kinds of other good stuff, for people living and going to gigs along the south coast of England. Ian is also a blues performer (see and has a web cast regular blues radio show on www.phonic.FM in Exeter (Wednesdays: 1pm Eastern/ 12 noon Central, 10am Pacific).

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