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Tail Dragger and Bob Corritore - Longtime Friends in the Blues

Delta Groove Music

10 songs; 53:57 minutes

Styles: Traditional Electric Chicago Blues

Blues fans, especially the purest of the purists, perennially search for artists that capture the undiluted essence of the genre they love. For them, blues rock, country blues, jazzy blues and “bluez” don’t completely satisfy. “Where’s the next Muddy Waters,” they wonder, or “Who’s the next Howlin’ Wolf?” Thankfully, the second question has been answered by Chester “Howlin’ Wolf” Burnett’s friend, James Y. Jones, known as Tail Dragger. Nobody’s singing today sounds more like Howlin’ Wolf’s. Jones earned his blues moniker for his reputation of showing up late for gigs where he was afforded the opportunity to sit in and perform while Wolf was on break. Now, he’s teamed up with a comrade he first met in 1976, blues ambassador Bob Corritore, to let the world know they’re “Longtime Friends in the Blues.” Of the ten songs on this album, only one, John Lee (the original Sonny Boy) Williamson’s “Sugar Mama,” is a cover. Tail Dragger’s nine original tracks pack such an unadulterated, real-deal wallop that this reviewer was sure they’d been performed previously, especially in the Windy City!

Here are three that will make listeners swear Howlin’ Wolf has been reincarnated:

Track 03: “Birthday Blues”--This song proves blues numbers don’t always have to be about touchy topics, such as cheating lovers. Rather, it centers around an annual milestone. “How old are you?” Tail Dragger asks his gal. “I know you ain’t going to tell me,” he adds, knowing that a lady never reveals her real age. Then the real shocker: “You’re sixteen; they told me you’re twenty-two…!”

Track 06: “So Ezee”-- Pronounced “easy,” the second word in the title refers to the difficulty of “being misled.” This down-and-dirty ditty is “a message to the world, the old folks and the young ones too: Wake up and stop cracking jokes, and use your head (for more than a hat rack)!” Bob Corritore’s howling harmonica is the highlight here, tearing this track up like a thunderstorm! Henry Gray’s piano is also powerful.

Track 09: “Boogie Woogie Ball”--Quirky number nine on Tail Dragger and Bob Corritore’s list is this tantalizing throw-down, featuring Gray on 88 keys and vocal commentary. His rapport with James Y. Jones is second to none, and even though one might not be able to catch all that they’re saying, the message is clear: it’s party time before “Please Mr. Jailer,” the final ballad, begins. Jump for joy for four minutes and twenty-six seconds!

Other featured, standout musicians include Kirk Fletcher and Chris James on guitars, Patrick Rynn on bass, and Brian Fahey on drums. These Longtime Friends of the Blues provide a long, refreshing swig from the Fountain of Traditional Chicago Blues. Want proof? Ponder what Howlin’ Wolf himself said: “One day this boy [Tail Dragger] will take my place….”

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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