january 2011
beyond the blue

westJIM BYRNES, Everywhere WestJim Byrnes and producer Steve Dawson reunite again, for a fourth time in fact, on Everywhere West. Surrounded by a mostly acoustic ensemble augmented by a pump organ or Wurlitzer, a potent horn section and Daniel Lapp’s personable fiddling, Byrnes works what amounts to a blues variant on Bruce Springsteen’s Seeger Sessions project, substituting tunes by Lowell Fulsom, Bobby Blue Bland, Jimmy Reed and Robert Johnson (and his own originals) for the Seeger songbook and framing these in arrangements hearkening back to the small R&B combos of the post-WWII period (is it an accident that the setlist includes a Louis Jordan tune, albeit done in the Sheiks’ string band style rather than in Jordan’s jump blues form?).

wellsJUNIOR WELLS & THE ACES, Live in Boston 1966A live recording that captures the late, great Junior Wells in peak form at a pivotal moment in his career, Live in Boston 1966 needs only its powerhouse, gripping performances to recommend it. For this gig at an unidentified Boston night spot, Wells is supported not by any of the Chi-town stalwarts he had been using back in the Windy City, but rather by the Aces, the band he had launched his career with around 1950.

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