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Texas Northside Kings
Dialtone Records

Running Time: 44:45

Have you ever walked down Sixth Street in Austin, TX or been to Antone’s? If you haven’t, here’s something that might convince to take a trip to the Loan Star State. This self-titled disc on the small Dialtone label is a mish-mash of young talent; some familiar and some a little less known.

The back-up band is an all-star cast of Texas legends with the king of the Texas shuffle drums Willie Sampson, San Antonio sax legend Spot Barnett, one of the most in-demand piano players of his time Earl Gilliam, and Jeffrey Plummer adding the solid bass. The folks fronting the band are somewhat more recognizable, as they are the crop of new and young blues guitarists of the Austin blues scene. BMA Best New Artist from a few years ago Nick Curran rounds out the all-star cast of Johnny Moeller (Fabulous Thunderbirds, Daryl Nullisch), Mike Keller (Marcia Ball), Seth Walker, Shawn Pittman (Susan Tedeschi, Fabulous Thunderbirds), and Eve Monsees the least-known of all the players on the album.

It’s Monsees who kicks off the album (boy those southerners sure are about manners and ladies first!) with a number more likened to Chicago with Magic Sam’s “You Belong To Me.” Her vocals aren’t quite as refined as Sam’s but her guitar stylings are in the pocket, and with the song either in or not in the pocket for the band….it’s definitely in.

Johnny Moeller gives us a purely traditional Texas instrumental with “Guitar Groove” as Barnett lays down some thick sounds on the sax a la fellow Texan King Curtis. Shawn Pittman follows with a John Hammond-gruff “I Don’t Need No Sugar Mama.” Nick Curran offers up some traditional Howlin’ Wolf with the little-covered “I’ll Be Around.” Seth Walker gives us some swamp stylings and some pure vocals with the stand out track “I Hear You Knocking” from the Lazy Lester songbook. Mike Keller offers up the Elmore James’ cover of “Red Hot Mama” that comes off more like Jeremy Spencer or Peter Green from the Fleetwood Mac days. Seth Walker returns to his normal fifties crooning and T-Bone Walker chops on “Since I Fell For You,” which is another gem of the disc. Nick Curran offers up some beautiful homage to the barrelhouse rolls of Guitar Slim and Little Richard, showing some of his rockabilly leanings with “Slippin’ and Slidin’.” Eve Monsees recovers from a forgettable “I Was Lookin’ Back To See” with the Bo Diddley coupled with Elmore James but Monsees-written “Hawaiian Hound” instrumental.  Curran turns in some Jimmy Reed harmonica-and-guitar chops on the Willie Dixon “Oh Baby” that is pure gold.  Pittman gives some great guitar and vocal gruff again with “Reap What You Sow.” 

For all the guitarists on the disc, the soloing is never over the top and never veers into ridiculous guitar vomit. It’s all very understated and tasteful, demonstrating professional control that is unlike some of these players’ peers. It will not be surprising to see more solo efforts hit your ears soon and they are all well-worth paying attention to.

Check out more great releases from this decade-old label striving to preserve blues, gospel, and jazz of Austin TX at:

Ben Cox is a Blues Songwriter, Musician, DJ and Journalist

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