Blues Bash

Duke Robillard & Friends

Stony Plain Records, 2020

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


Duke Robillard is now a half-century or so into his career and remains one of the hardest working and most prolific bluesmen in music today. He helped found Roomful Of Blues and has gone on to release 30 plus solo albums, in addition to producing and guesting on dozens of projects.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Many times, the simple path is best and so it is with his new album, Blues Bash. The concept was just to make an album of blues songs he liked with a group of longtime friends. The music, as always, is impeccable and well-produced. Robillard’s guitar solos are creative and powerful, and they continue to be a highlight of any of his releases.

His basic band of keyboardist Bruce Bears, drummer Mark Teixeira, and bassists Jesse Williams and Marty Ballou provide the foundation for his three original and seven cover songs. He then builds upon this foundation with brass, harp, and guest vocalists. It all adds up to an album of basic but party-oriented blues.

The three tracks with Chris Cote handling vocals work well. Cote has more of a jazz/big band type voice that works well with Robillard’s straight blues guitar approach. Ike Turner’s “Do You Mean It” finds the duo meshing together. Ray Milton’s 1953 classic adds piano player Bruce Bears to the mix. The final Cote Vocal performance is on T-Bone Walker’s “You Don’t Know What You’re Doin’” with a wall of saxophones providing support.

Instrumentals are always a Robillard treat. “Rock Alley” is a straight, concise blues piece, while the original “Just Chillin’” has more of a smooth jazz feel. The best of Duke’s vocals is his “No Time,” which presents him in a different light as he has to handle both the singing and playing.

At this point in his career, I doubt if Robillard could make an average album. Blues Bash is well above that level and should provide enjoyment for any aficionado of the blues.

Rating: B+

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