Rick Galusha's Pacific St. Blues and Americana

Since inception (1989), Pacific St. Blues & Americana strives to be a discerning voice helping roots fans sift through the mountains of music released every year. We are not for everyone; we want to engage active, critical listeners that hear beyond d'jour. Interviews include: Johnny Winter, Bill Wyman (Rolling Stones), Jerry Wexler, Tommy Shannon & Chris Layton, B.B. King, Dr. John, Robin Trower, Robben Ford, Mato Nanji, Joe Bonamassa, Harry Manx, Sue Foley, Marshall Chess, Billy Lee Riley, Charlie Louvin, Kim Richey, Radney Foster, Eric Johnson, David Clayton Thomas, Al Kooper, Phil Chen (Wired, Blow By Blow), Ian McLagan, Art Neville, Southside Johnny, Miami Steve Van Zant, Nils Lofgren, Bruce Iglauer, Charlie Musselwhite, Studebaker John, Chris Duarte, Smokin' Joe Kubeck, Hamilton Loomis, Peter Karp, Roomful of Blues, James Harman, Hadden Sayers, Malford Milligan, Melvin Taylor, Otis Taylor, Dave Alvin, Coco Montoya, Jimmy Thackery, Marsha Ball, Maria Muldaur, Shelby Lynne, Magic Dick & J. Geils, Lil' Milton, BuddyGuy, Aynsley Lister, Matt Schofield, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Guy Clark, Joe Ely, James Cotton, Robin & Jesse Davey, Hugh Coltman (Hoax), Sean Kelly (Samples), John Entwistle (The Who), Mark Olson (Jayhawks), Walter Wolfman Washington, Anthony Gomes, Bob Malone, Chubby Carrier, Buckwheat Zydeco, Murali Coryell, David Jacob Strain, DeAnna Bogart, Michael Lee Firkins, Guy Davis, Jason Ricci, John Doe, Little Feat, Matt Woods, MikeZito, Peter Buffett, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Corky Siegel, Todd Park Mohr, Watermelon Slim, Magic Slim, Corey Harris,- - - - - - ------------------------Radio archives: http://www.kiwrblues.podomatic.com/. Playlists: http://www.omahablues.com/ Reviews featured in http://www.blueswax.com/. Email: KIWRblues@gmail.com Live online; Sundays 9 a.m. (-6 GMT) http://www.897theriver.com/

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Blue House 'How Big?' is sure to big!

Artist: Blue House
Title: How Big?

Local Music; the term infers inferiority. Unbeknown to most, Eastern Nebraska's live music scene has actually been taking on very positive reputation throughout the country. Including articles in national and international magazines such at Time, Mojo, and Album Network. At one point a manager for a well known national act referred to our fair community as, 'The Austin of the North.' While Austin's reputation as the 'Live Music Capital of the World' may be sullied now - it was quite the compliment when it was offered. I am especially proud of the support role that Homer's has played in development of the areas live music scene. I think there are other major supporting players making it happen including www.SLAMomaha, BJ Hutchtemann, Terry O. & the Omaha Blues Society, Sophia John, KIWR ' The River', Marq, and The READER. In the end it comes down to the musicians themselves - are the songs there or aren't they? If the masses vote with dollars, based upon the sales of local music, the local scene is exploding with success.
Through the '70's and '80's Omaha's preference ran towards working-class-rock. To a large extent that was propelled by Z92's 'goouge' playlist. With the tumbling plethora of radio formats resulting in the wildly successful format of KIWR (in terms of music sold) and to a lesser extent KCTY, Omahan's preferences for music has been maturing and expanding. When some things change; some things stay the same. I particularly enjoy the development within our blues community of two significant acts; John Crews Blues, who's album is forthcoming, and Blue House, who's new album, 'How Big?' is just hitting the stores (04/27/2002). John Crews pre-release single, 'King of Broken Hearts' indicates that their new album will be excellent: after three listenings to the new Blue House album I can say that 'How Big?' is, after 13 years of hosting PS Blues (KIWR/KKCD) the finest locally released blues-genre release I have heard to date.

Generously supported by KEZO's Todd & Tyler (who use the power of their bully pulpit to support local music against the stations lethargic formatting), Blue House has been 'in development' for more than five years and folks, the wait has been worth it!

On their first album Blue House was steeped in standard covers & tired clich├ęs, smothered under the weight of a band that didn't jelling. This new album exhibits a well oiled machine that includes a tastefully skillful guitar player (Joe Buda) who has the sense to get out of the way and let the band rock as a unit. Buda's tasteful "chord slicing" adds a funk driven push to the band's propelling rhythm section (Joe Putjenter- drums & vocals, Eric Reimnitz-bass) Throughout the disc the band allows the sensual beauty of it's horn section to step up and solo and for this alone the band stands above all comers. The seventh track, 'Da De Da (Grease the Cat)' is an Average White Band-like inspired instrumental that allows each brass-man to step forward and 'sass' the melody line (Scott Vicroy - saxophones, Stan Harper-saxophones, Joel Edwards-trumpet). Edwards muted solo fits perfectly.

So what's wrong with this release? The CD jacket's back panel is nearly unreadable and with an audience of 35 and over - forget it - no one could read it if they wanted to. Then there's the novelty song, 'How Big You Gonna Get', though sure to be a favorite tune at the bands live peformance, to quote Danny Devito's character in the film 'Tin Men' "it's [gonna be] an albatros around my neck." My other critic is that there are moments when Buda's lack of a chucky guitar sound gives a, 'Modern AC' sound to the band ala Michael McDonald... which come to think about it is probably a critical faux pax but a commercial lode. Of the twelve tracks on the album, nine are originals and, for the most part, exceptionally well done . Their cover of, 'Polk Salad Annie' rocks-n-fros into a swingin' ditta that allows the horn section to push up against the a panoramic guitar solo. The band also covers the old standard by Stax Records' Rufus Thomas (and later covered by the Rolling Stones and Aerosmith), 'Walkin' the Dog.' The third cover is, 'Tee Ni Nee Ni Nu' which I recognize as an Alex Chilton (Box Tops) tune.

In closing, this is a very good album and considering that it's a local blues band, well, that makes it all the better. With proper marketing and a full commitment by the band, their's is a modern-retro sound that could offer Blue House an opportunity to explore stages outside of our immediate vicinity. I hope they reach for the brass ring that this record indicates is with their reach.

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