Guitarist and singer Boy Wells (real name: Mark Schultz) is a largely unknown veteran of the southern rock scene, who for some years performed mainly around Washington, D.C. but who now resides in central Texas. His CD, Blue Skies Calling, reveals all the influences that have always flavored the best southern rock: blues, country, bluegrass, rock ‘n roll, and jazz. All the songs were written by Wells (Schultz) himself.
There’s some fine instrumental work here, beginning with the opening number, “Mr Coluzzi,” with its New Orleans funk/jazz sound greatly enhanced by Andy Hamburger and Bruce Crump on drums, Bill Watson on saxophone and Brad Clements on trumpet. The tracks “Marcel Marsupial” (also the name of Wells’ record company) and “Tova” are improvisational guitar numbers. The smooth, peaceful “Tova” is my personal favorite track on the CD. “Tin Winter” has some fine picking and tasty violin and mandolin work by Rickie Simpkins. It has a strong Celtic and bluegrass influence with some classic southern rock flourishes. The final instumental track, “Traveller,” is a pure bluegrass romp, once again featuring that fine, playful violin. It is my second-favorite track on the recording.
On the numbers which feature vocals, Wells has a perfect voice for southern rock, a little worn, slightly weary, thoroughly lived-in. “World Weary and Blues” and “Falling Down” are rocking blues, while “Blue Skies Calling” and “Mon Angel” are more country blues, with a Marshall Tucker feel to them, and no one ever did southern rock better than Marshall Tucker. “Love in Vain” has a great opening and a very cool vintage blues and jazz vibe. “Broke Down” turns to the country side of the genre. “Devil’s Background” is a tasty bit of blues with some fine slide guitar work.
What ties the entire CD together is the masterful guitar picking and the quality playing of Wells’ backup musicians. Part of making a great record depends on who plays along, and Wells has a stellar group.
It’s clear that Boy Wells is a musician who deserves to be better known. If you enjoy the musical styles that characterize southern rock and blues, you will thoroughly enjoy Blue Skies Calling.
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