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7.3.08

Debbie Davies





Debbie Davies - Blues Blast - 2007 - Telarc

Blues Blast is a brilliant album that that demonstrates Debbie Davies' great guitar skills and her vocal talents.. Backed by great blues players like Tab Benoit, Coco Montoya, and Charlie Musselwhite, Debbie Davies is one of the most talented blues ladies in contemporary blues music today, and this album proves it. VHR by A.O.O.F.C. Check out her great 1999 album, "Homesick for the Road," and Tab Benoit's wonderful " Sea Saint Sessions" album.

TRACKS


A.C. Strut (Coco Montoya)
My Time After Awhile (Coco Montoya)
Sittin' and Cryin' (Coco Montoya, Charlie Musselwhite)
Movin' & Groovin' (Charlie Musselwhite)
Crawling King Snake (Tab Benoit)
Howlin' For My Darlin' (Tab Benoit)
Like You Was Gone (Coco Montoya)
Where the Blues Come To Die (Coco Montoya, Tab Benoit, Charlie
Sonoma Sunset (Coco Montoya, Tab Benoit, Charlie Musselwhite)


MUSICIANS

Charlie Musselwhite - harmonica
CoCo Montoya - guitar
Tab Benoit - guitar
Per Hanson - drums
Debbie Davies - guitar
Bruce Katz - Hammond b-3 organ
Rod Carey - bass guitar

REVIEWS

Any blues fan dedicated to live music will testify that when musicians play with their peers, the energy rises a few notches. That's the concept behind this meeting of the minds hosted by guitarist Debbie Davies. Fellow string-benders Tab Benoit and Coco Montoya (both have worked with her previously) join harmonica veteran Charlie Musselwhite and let the resulting fireworks naturally explode. Typically, these projects wind up being overdubbed affairs, a process that dilutes and often negates the concept. But except for a few instances, largely with Benoit, Davies and her musical friends assembled in the studio, resulting in the titular explosion. Both Montoya and Davies apprenticed under Albert Collins, and the opening "A.C. Strut" captures the Texas blues legend's loose shuffle style as the guitarists trade sizzling licks. Montoya and Musselwhite join for "Sittin' and Cryin'," a finger-snapping Davies original where the harpist tears into a limber and authentic Little Walter-styled solo topped only by the next track, his own "Movin' & Groovin'," to which he also contributes lead vocals. Davies turns the microphone over to Benoit on John Lee Hooker's "Crawling King Snake," moving the proceedings down to the muggy Louisiana swamps. But when the participants join on "Like You Was Gone," the summit cooks. The closing 10-minute romp on a slow, minor-key instrumental "Sonoma Sunset" again finds the foursome swapping licks as the temperature progressively intensifies and the resulting jam shoots through the roof. © Hal Horowitz, © 1996-2008 ANTOnline (Atlanta Network Technologies)
Blues Blast (Telarc) is the latest release from blues singer, songwriter and guitarist Debbie Davies and represents Davies' 11th album outing as a group leader, or in the case of Blues Blast, a hostess of sorts, as the CD features vocal and instrumental contributions from Coco Montoya, Tab Benoit, and Charlie Musselwhite. One or more of these special guests appears on each of the CD's nine tracks, with all three plus Davies on two tracks – "Like You Was Gone," a song written by frequent Davies drummer Don Castagno (who does not play on Blues Blast) and the closing instrumental track "Sonoma Sunset" written by Davies, Coco Montoya, the recording session's drummer, Per Hanson, and its bass player, Rod Carey. The CD's rhythm section is rounded out by Hammond B3 player Bruce Katz. "All of us – Tab, Coco, Charlie and myself – are students of the old school, and there’s a sense of history that ties us together," says Davies of Blues Blast, which accurately describes the album's feel, but there's a noteworthy specific history shared by Davies and Montoya – both are the musical offspring of bluesman Albert Collins, the Master of the Telecaster. The Albert Collins connection is a fact both Davies and Montoya wear with pride and reverence and the two pay tribute to their mentor on the opening instrumental track, "A.C. Strut," a Texas shuffle written by Davies reminiscent of great Collins shuffles such as "Frosty" (Ice Pickin', 1978, Alligator Records) and "Avalanche" (Frozen Alive!, 1981, Alligator Records). Though Davies and Montoya have developed individual guitar tones and styles since their time with Collins, "A.C. Strut" is clearly a tribute to the mentor with respect to attack, phrasing, and vibrato. In fact, there are riffs on this track from Davies and Montoya that are eerily similar. The two start out exchanging verses, perhaps separately recalling Collins, but toward the end they trade riffs as if saying to each other, "Remember this one?" The tune's a heartfelt dialog. It's interesting to note that the album closer, "Sonoma Sunset," is also an instrumental, but one that features the present-day guitar approach of Montoya and Davies, the opening and closing tracks thus giving the listener a good "that was then, this is now" glimpse at the two guitarists. Mention was made in a recent concert review of Montoya's volume-knob-swell technique and you'll hear him use that to good effect on "Sonoma Sunset." Musselwhite and Benoit also deliver ear-catching contributions to the ten-minute tune, making it an overall current-day blues celebration among friends, despite the track's somewhat somber minor-key mood. Nestled between the opener and closer you'll find: Debbie Davies singing the Buddy Guy classic "My Time After Awhile" with Coco on guitar; a Davies-penned Texas-flavored original, "Sittin' and Cryin'," featuring Coco on guitar and Musselwhite's harmonica; a Musselwhite original, "Movin' and Groovin'," with Charlie on vocals and harmonica; two songs featuring Tab Benoit – John Lee Hooker's "Crawling King Snake" and Howlin' Wolf's (written by Chester Burnett and Willie Dixon) "Howlin' For My Darlin'" – on which Benoit contributes vocals and guitar on the first and guitar on the second; "Like You Was Gone" (the song written by Castagno) on which Davies and her three guests appear; and, "Where The Blues Come To Die" written by Debbie Davies and Dennis Walker and featuring Debbie's vocals and Coco's guitar. Yes, Blues Blast is essentially old-school-tinged electric blues, but presented in fresh and vital form by road warriors who've made a lifetime commitment to keeping the flame aglow. It's a worthy addition to the collection. © Tom Watson, © Modern Guitars Magazine unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved
Blues Blast is a pressure cooker recording that showcases Davies’ seasoned guitar and vocal capabilities and includes guest appearances by three high-profile bluesmen: guitarists Tab Benoit and Coco Montoya, and harpist Charlie Musselwhite. “Like a master chef’s gourmet meal offering exquisite courses, Debbie has crafted a nine-course wallop of her musical vision and spirit,” says Art Tipaldi, senior writer for Blues Revue and the author of the album’s liner notes. “One listen to Debbie’s tribute [to guitar mentor Albert Collins] with Coco, the opening ‘A.C. Strut,’ proves these kids learned Pop’s lessons.” And that’s just the beginning. While the spirit of Collins is ever-present in Davies’ guitar attack, the earthy Texas shuffle has become her trademark sound. On Buddy Guy’s classic ‘My Time After While,’ she conjures up that fiery Lone Star groove. Four of the eight remaining tracks are either written or co-written by Davies. Musselwhite ups the ante when he steps in with his high-end blows and low-end draws on Davies’ own “Sittin’ and Cryin’” and Musselwhite’s own contribution, “Movin’ and Groovin.’” Labelmate Tab Benoit joins Davies to pay homage to two legendary blues masters: John Lee Hooker on “Crawlin’ King Snake” and Howlin’ Wolf on “Howlin’ for My Darlin.’” The closer, “Sonoma Sunset,” bakes slow and rich like the perfect high-calorie dessert for every blues lover. Davies and her three accomplices join together in this minor-key, slow-blues instrumental. The combination of Musselwhite’s harp solo – an exquisite succession of one sonic innovation after another – and input from all three guitarists turn this track into a ten-minute workout. In the final coda, it’s easy to feel the spirited enthusiasm in their teamwork. “With tour schedules being what they are,” says Davies, “it’s nearly impossible to get four blues musicians in the same studio at the same time. So making this record was a rare joy, and a highly satisfying experience. All of us – Tab, Coco, Charlie and myself – are students of the old school, and there’s a sense of history that ties us together. We all brought our ‘A game,’ and when we came together, we all spoke the same language. The exchange of ideas that took place in the making of this record had very little to do with talking and everything to do with music.” More than just a creative dialogue, this album is a Blues Blast. © 2007 Concord Music Group, Inc. unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

BIO

Davies rise to the upper echelon of blues music started at an early age as she absorbed the music heard constantly in her home. Her (professional) musician parents were either sitting at the piano or spinning discs on their turntable, filling the air with the sounds of big band jazz, harmony vocal groups, or the pop icons of the day. But the young Davies was particularly attracted to the bluesier sounds of her father’s Ray Charles records, and by the age of 12 realized that her affinity for an instrument was not for the piano, but for the guitar. “She wields an electric guitar as if it were a wand.” ~Los Angeles Times. “Davies playing is extraordinary - full of propulsion and energy and melodic invention…” ~People Magazine. Growing up in Los Angeles in the 1960’s, she found that being a female guitar player meant only one thing: acoustic guitar. Electric guitars were still toys meant only for boys. But when Debbie heard the sounds of the British blues-rock bands, particularly the electric guitar of Eric Clapton with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, she became completely captivated. Going against the grains of society’s accepted roles of the time, Debbie pursued her dream with the passion of an artist and the soul of a rebel. Davies cut her teeth playing in blues and rock ‘n roll bands in the San Francisco Bay area before returning to Los Angeles in 1984, where she landed the lead guitar spot in Maggie Mayall and the Cadillacs, an all-female band led by wife of British blues pioneer, John Mayall. In 1988 she was recruited by Albert Collins to join the Icebreakers, and for the next three years she was a featured guitarist performing behind one of the most innovative bluesmen of all time. “I stepped through a door into the real blues world when I joined Albert’s band,” Davies says. “It’s one thing to listen to the records and pull off the licks, or sit in the audience watching these artists play. But actually going out and touring with one, turned the blues into something completely three-dimensional for me. I knew then what a special opportunity this was, but I know it even more now.” During her tenure with Albert, Debbie was invited to perform on John Mayall’s 1990 album, A Sense of Place, and in 1991 she recorded with Albert Collins and the Icebreakers on the Grammy nominated self-titled release for Point Blank/Virgin Records. In the summer of 1991 Debbie became lead guitarist for Fingers Taylor and the Ladyfingers Revue, which served as the opening act for Jimmy Buffett’s “Outpost” tour. In September 1993 she came out with her debut solo release, Picture This, on Blind Pig Records, which featured a cameo by Collins on “I Wonder Why.” People like to ask Debbie if she learned her technique from Collins, to which she gently points out that she had to play well from the start to hold her own with Albert at every performance. However, the experience taught her lessons in being a better musician, both onstage and off. Says Davies, “It was the most powerful band I had ever played with, so I learned to dig even deeper into myself to pull out the music. Albert was a man of so much grace and kindness, so I can only hope that I was able to absorb some of his humanity too.” Since 1993, Debbie has produced nine solo recordings and two collaborative CD’s, one with guitarists Tab Benoit and Kenny Neal, and another with guitarists Anson Funderburgh and Otis Grand. The roster of other artists who have joined Debbie in the studio on her recordings reads like a who’s who of the blues: Albert Collins, Ike Turner, James Cotton, Mick Taylor, Peter Green, Coco Montoya, Duke Robillard, Tommy Shannon, Chris “Whipper” Layton, Sugar Ray Norcia, Mudcat Ward, Charlie Musselwhite, Bruce Katz, Per Hanson, Noel Neal, and Rod Carey. She has received eight nominations for Blues Music Awards, and in 1997 won the award for Best Contemporary Female Blues Artist. She is nominated yet again in this category for 2008. Here's What the Critic's Are Saying About Debbie Davies... "She pulls out all of the stops. She can play it all: seductive, soulful material, down-home Delta blues or humorous tales of life on the road." ~BLUES REVUE. "Davies exhibits guitar playing virtuosity with the likes of Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan." ~MUSIC CONNECTION. "Debbie is one of the direct links to the originators of this music. She knows what the blues is all about and you can hear it in the passion of her playing." ~COCO MONTOYA. "Debbie is an incredible guitarist who plays with great taste and can cook like mad. Debbie plays from the heart and her heart has a lot to say. She inspires me. Besides being a fine musician she's also an outstanding person that I am very glad to call a friend of mine." ~CHARLIE MUSSELWHITE. "I don't often give endorsements or references, but once in a rare while I hear a musician of such talent that I want people to know. I believe my reputation backs up my ability to recognize exceptional blues guitarists. Such a one is Debbie Davies. Hear her now." ~JOHN MAYALL. [Bio/Article is © 2008 Piedmont Talent, Inc., All Rights Reserved.]