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No Rest For The Wicked: Rusty Willoughby, Derek Trucks, Steve Miller Band, Jackie Greene, Mitch Woods

Welcome to your Verse Chorus Verse playlist for July 8, 2010 where our theme for today is No Rest For The Wicked.

I am an avowed, proud music addict.  I spend money I don’t have on records I am convinced I can’t live without.  I’m also apparently a dinosaur.  The music industry continues to see its sales decline and yet I’ve never shopped harder.  I’m also blessed to have made contact with some wonderful musicians and publicists who send me music to sample.  I have yet to find the time to write about all the music that comes my way.  I’ll never be able to give back to music a fraction of what it has given to me, but I make these crude efforts to express my gratitude.  Here are five songs from recently acquired albums.  I hope to find time to talk about each of these records in greater detail.  Until then, munch on this tray of appetizers…

1) “Too Early” – Rusty Willoughby – Cobirds Unite: There was probably no chance I wouldn’t fall in love with this record that pairs singer/songwriter Rusty Willoughby with vocalist Rachel Flotard and multi-instrumentalist Barrett Martin.  The next record those two make together or separate that I don’t like will be the first.  I don’t know what it is but it keeps happening.  “Too Early” is a delicate, lovely song with wonderful lead and harmony vocals and tender instrumentation.  The record won’t be out for another couple weeks but this is one you need to look for.

2) “Stranger In The Sand” – Jackie Greene – Till The Light Comes: Jackie Greene’s “Stranger” has just a little more bite than “Too Early” but there is gentleness in the harmonies and the playing.  Greene’s lead guitar briefly introduces jagged edges but this is a slice of work that ties the folk-rock David Crosby-era Byrds to the Gram Parsons Sweetheart Of The Rodeo era.  This is California dream pop with a rootsiness that places it somewhere more rural.

3) “Gumbo Blues” – Mitch Woods – Gumbo Blues:  Mitch Woods found the guys who have worked with some of the most important names in New Orleans’ rich musical history.  Guys like Fats Domino and Allen Toussaint have earned their place as keepers of the flame and they’ve done it with countless musicians sitting in with them, learning.  The title track of Woods’ latest album swings and bursts with the kind of vitality mere imitators will never capture.

4) “All Your Love (I Miss Loving)” – Steve Miller Band – Bingo!:  “All Your Love” is one of Otis Rush’s signature tunes and is a roaring slice of West Chicago blues.  Miller is a supremely talented guitarist and has a deep affection for the blues but no period of SMB rings of West Chicago to me.  This could have been a trainwreck.  Maybe it should have been a trainwreck.  No one is more surprised than me that I really like this version.  This arrangement plays up the song’s rumba rhythm and melds it with some Latin percussion.  Miller wisely avoids trying to match Rush’s vocal intensity but more than holds his own when it comes time to play some stinging guitar licks.

5) “Afro Blue” – Derek Trucks Band – Roadsongs: I was bummed when Trucks bested Lurrie Bell and Ronnie Earl for Guitarist of The Year at the 2010 Blues Music Awards and I still am, but — to quote our president — let me be clear: Derek Trucks can fucking play (do I even need to tell you which part of that is the Obama quote and which isn’t?).  He’s an astonishing talent and there are few who’ve ever played who can come within a galaxy of his ability.  Listen to this 14 minute live performance, backed by his terrific band.  Be awed by Kofi Burbridge’s flute work and the way it makes sense when it shouldn’t.  Marvel at Mace Hubbard’s tenor sax improv.  Then listen to Derek Trucks again and again and again.  I’d still vote for Lurrie or Ronnie if given the ballot today but DT makes a hell of a convincing argument.

About Josh Hathaway

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