Wednesday, May 17, 2017


There is a lot of strong blues music coming out of Houston these days, featured on the Connor Ray Music label. It's been signing up local veterans with plenty of touring experience, the ones who prove it night after night. Not getting down to Houston much (read: never) they are all new names to me, but it's obvious they are first-rate, the kind I'd want to discover at a classic roadhouse. I found out about harp player Steve Krase back in December of 2016 when I heard him all over the latest album by singer Trudy Lynn, took note that he had his own group, and waited for the next album from him.

Luckily, it didn't take long. Here Krase takes the vocal mic as well, and brings his tight, good-time band to fore, with a set of band originals and cool covers. As you'd expect, and hope, there's plenty of sharp harp punctuating each cut, What I like about him is that he's not a huffer-and-puffer; he's controlling the thing, to make sure he's getting the right melody and solo lines out of it. Where many simply rely on volume to cover a couple of bars, Krase is joining in with parts. On Should've Seen It Coming (written by his brother David Krase), he joins lines started by sax player Alisha Pattillo. He also leaves room for the others, wisely letting piano player Randy Wall shine on that same track, along with an awesome jazzy guitar solo by David Carter.

The band is clearly most comfortable playing fun material, and takes off when there's a light-hearted groove to grab, such as on Travellin' Mood, and the Arthur Alexander hit Shot Of Rhythm and Blues, a Cavern Club favourite of The Beatles and covered later by Van Morrison. Krase's own The World's Still In A Tangle is advice for the world-weary to stop getting beaten down by all the negative stuff on the news: "There's salmonella in my burger/it's in my nuggets too/e coli in my lettuce/what am I to do?" I'll repeat what I said about Trudy Lynn's album; This is a group I would rush to see, and stay for each set.

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