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Volker Strifler - Let The Music Rise



German native Volker Strifler left his homeland in his twenties to explore his passion for the blues in the states. Now based in Northern California, the guitarist and singer-songwriter offers the latest cd of his solo career, after years playing with The Ford Blues Band, Robben Ford, Chris Cain and others. At this stage of his career his music is an amalgamation of roots music, rock, blues-rock, jazz, a touch of blues and whatever else he chooses to throw into the mix. His guitar skills and pleasing classic-rock vocals lend themselves quite nicely to his confident sound. As if he doesn’t do enough, he manages to provide a stellar production job. Having top-of-the-line backing musicians is the icing on the cake.

“Going To Brownsville ”, his adaptation of Sleepy John Estes’ 1929 song “The Girl I Love Got Great Long Curly Hair” is the only real blues song here. The unique herky-jerky treatment given to it here breathes new life into a blues classic. Volker’s smoldering electric slide guitar dodges in and out of the mix with horns, mandolin and electric piano. The variety of riffs are a treat for the ear. Spy movie horns combine with country-meets-jazz-meets-The Ventures guitar to move “The Great Escape” along just nicely. A quest for peace is the theme of “Redemption”. It is given an island “Junkanoo” groove via horns and tasty percussion. Volker’s snaky guitar works itself right into the festivities, never sounding out of place. Fleetwood Mac’s “Jigsaw Puzzle Blues” is an instrumental were guitar and horns complement each other. (Chip) Roland Condon lends his piano skills to “Wait A Minute” to blend with the slide guitar to create somewhat of a Little Feat vibe. Slide guitar skips all through the title track, leading up to the narrator’s joyful departure from this mortal coil-“Want you to dance around my grave, now, and let the music rise”. “It’s Getting Late” finds our hero on a boozy New Orleans’ journey into depravity.

The Little Feat influence shows up again on “Last Night I Had A Dream”, as Lowell George-style slide guitar morphs into classy blues-jazz riffing ala Volker’s one-time compatriot Robben Ford. The Ford influence shows up again in the cool-blues of “When Daylight Comes”. The instrumental closer, “Hoogie Boogie” owes a debt to those masters of the country instrumental, the Nashville pedal steel-guitar duo of Speedy West & Jimmy Bryant. “Say what?” you may ask. I learned of them second hand as well. They were the premier instrumental team in Nashville when I was knee-high to a grasshopper. They also backed some of country music’s biggest stars of that era. Volker utilizes some similar faster-than-the-speed-of-sound licks on this track. Is it coincidence or is the guy just that good?

As soon as I got over my disappointment of not getting a blues record, I began to appreciate the goodness that was going on here. The guys make it sound so easy that the music flies by and you find your finger involuntarily hitting play at the end. The many musical styles blend together to create something wholly satisfying. 

Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta.

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