Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Boy Wells -- "blue skies calling"
There are few names in the blues that generate more discussion than guitarist Danny Gatton. Gatton's chops were unassailable, top-notch, and he could play blues, jazz, or country and play them all great. But Gatton's star never rose to the degree it should. Like the other "unknown" great guitar player Roy Buchanan, it seems that Gatton's personality sometimes got in the way of him connecting with an audience. With all that said, I need to mention that Boy Wells was a friend and protege of Gatton's for over 20 years. After playing guitar professionally since the late 70s, Wells has been everywhere and can play everything on the guitar. "blue skies calling" is his debut, and Wells wrote all 12 songs.
The new album was recorded by Dave Hanbury at House of Jam Recording in Beltsville, Maryland, and features Boy Wells on vocals, lead, slide and acoustic guitar, joined by a cast of stellar musicians, including former Danny Gatton bassist John Prevetti, drummer Bruce Crump (Molly Hatchet) and Rickie Simpkins on violin and mandolin, whose credits include work with Emmylou Harris. Other players include Andy Hamburger on drums, Bill Watson on saxes, Brian Simms on keyboards, Jimi Lee on harmonica, Brad Clements on trumpet and Becky Taylor on banjo.
A special bonus on "blue skies calling" is the inclusion of a CD-ROM featuring a one hour guitar lesson given to Wells by Danny Gatton from the late 70s. Wells writes that "This lesson was me and Danny in the living room of his house; it's killer stuff."
The music on this cd covers a wide range of styles from Americana Music. Wells does New Orleans funk/jazz in the opener "Mr. Coluzzi;" blasts blues in "World Weary and Blue," "Love in Vain," (which is not the Robert Johnson song) and "Devil's Backbone Blues;" beautifully shows his southern rock roots in "Bring It Back," "Broke Down," "Mon Angel" and the title track; plays two instrumentals, "Marcel Marsupial" and "Tova;" and riffs a couple of bluegrass/country tracks "Tin Winter" and "Traveller." Special standouts include "Tova," which sounds as close as we are going to get in this life to hearing Duane Allman on acoustic guitar, and "Bring It Back," which sounds like how the Allman Brothers would if they had a great saxophone player. Throughout, Wells cooks on guitar when he needs to, but a lot of the time he allows the rest of the band to shine. On the opener, "Mr. Coluzzi," the horn section of Bill Watson and Brad Clements leads the way. On "Marcel Marsupial" things take a "Blow By Blow" era Jeff Beck jazzy turn, but the result is gorgeous playing by Bill Watson, Boy Wells on guitar and Brian Simms on keyboard. The title track reminds me of great early Marshall Tucker Band. All through the cd, the music is open and accessible and beautifully played.
This is an indy release. You can buy it at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/BoyWells