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The Bluesmasters - Volume Two

Direct Music LLC

12 Tracks; 41:48

The Bluesmasters is the brainchild of producer/guitarist Tim Tucker. The first Bluesmasters project became a showcase for Mickey Thomas of Jefferson Starship and Elvin Bishop’s “Fooled Around & Fell In Love” fame. The Bluesmasters Volume Two centers on the vocal talents of newcomer Cassie Taylor. Cassie is the daughter of enigmatic blues journeyman Otis Taylor in whose band she played bass and sang back up for several years. Cassie has toured and recorded as part of the Girls With Guitars project with Dani Wilde and Samantha Fish, and in 2011 she recorded the album Blue produced by Tim Tucker. On Bluesmasters Volume Two Cassie Taylor plays bass and fronts a band made up of Tim Tucker on guitar, Ric Ulsky on Hammond B3, Doug Lynn on harmonica, Larry Thompson on drums, and rock veteran Aynsley Dunbar on drums.

The disc is subtitled “In Memory of Our Friends Pinetop Perkins and Hubert Sumlin” who appear on the album, but where and when is up for debate. The musician credits seem to imply the presence of the true Blues masters on every track but their contributions seem minimal at best. Mickey Thomas makes a return appearance, singing “Red Rooster,” “Get Me A Car,” and singing a  duet with Cassie Taylor on “I’d Rather Go Blind.” Colorado’s hidden treasure Hazel Miller sings “Tangoray” and Jimmy Reed’s “Big Boss Man.” Rusty Anderson from Paul McCartney’s band adds guitar to “I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water” and Eric Gales kicks the guitar heat up a few notches on Studebaker John’s “Fine Cadillac” on which he also duets with Cassie Taylor.

Even with all the guests, I’m still hard-pressed to find a blues master on this album. Hubert Sumlin and Pinetop Perkins may have contributed to the recordings but their parts are not prominent and could probably be removed and not missed. Eric Gales is an exceptional guitar player and always a pleasure to hear. He probably comes closest to achieving the “blues master” status. Maybe the “Bluesmasters” moniker is a nod to the masters covered on the album like Muddy Waters, Elmore James, and Robert Johnson. I don’t know the answer, but if you put a name like “Bluesmasters” on a disc you better live up to it and this ensemble falls short. The band is adequate but you can hear their equal or better anywhere in the world this weekend in some crappy bar, banging out blues covers for 100 bucks & free beer.

Cassie Taylor’s performance here is occasionally exceptional and her breathy, sensual take on “I Just Want To Make Love To You” might just have you believing it. She sparkles on the one-two punch of album opener “Bring It On Home To Me” and then Elmore James’ “Talk To Me Baby” making the pair of tunes much more than just throwaway covers. Overall her work is good, but not great, and it hints at the talent bubbling under the surface. She seems restrained, and occasionally tentative, and sometimes completely out of place as on Robert Johnson’s “32/20 Blues.” Cassie sounds too soft and happy to be singing a song about betrayal and murder. Cassie Taylor is a sultry songstress. She channels her feminine charms in her delivery and to be effective, she needs material suited to her style. Cassie Taylor is a talented young lady who should probably stick to her own music; the connection to it is deeper.

I appreciate the fact these guys love the blues and are trying to showcase the songs of blues legends past but they don’t add anything to the originals or, even better, put their own stamp on the material. They have fallen prey to the casual, suburban blues: polished, pretty, and prosaic. There’s a reason these songs are classics and it seems lost on many of today’s blues players. Too many modern blues musicians think it’s all about the formula and not the results, and there we have Bluesmasters Volume Two: perfect formula with imperfect results.

Reviewer Jim Kanavy is the greatest guitar player in his house. He has been reviewing albums in his head for 30 years and in print since 2008, and is deeply committed to keeping the blues alive and thriving. For more information visit

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