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/

Monday, March 7, 2011

album review: Eric Johnson, Up Close

Artist: Eric Johnson
Title: Up Close

Guitarist Eric Johnson’s first major label debut, ‘Tones’ was release in 1986. Garnering merely a Grammy nomination on his debut in ‘86, Johnson would take home the Grammy in ’91 for his next release, ‘Ah Via Musicom.’ Long recognized by critics, Johnson’s career seems plagued with failed “breaks” that would have launched others into the upper stratosphere of the music industry. His seemingly inability to connect with a larger audience remains an unsolved mystery. None-the-less, he continues to sporadically release high quality albums that center on instrumentals tracks with tasty albeit grit-free vocals. Reputed to be a perfectionist, one wonders whether this inability to ‘let go’ is the cause of Johnson’s limited market reach. As the “Jeff Beck of the Southern Plains,” Johnson’s ability to write, perform and arrange is beyond reproach.

On ‘Up Close’ Johnson employs his distinct approach to the guitar. Predictably he uses instrumentals to showcase this unique technique; a style that employs traditional blues textures; arcs and bends, but is simultaneously smooth with a near Stanley Jordan-like qualities.

On the cut, “Brilliant Room” Johnson once again teams up with Austin vocalist Malford Milligan to deliver an excellent radio-friendly, up-tempo song. Johnson’s use of ‘hammer down’ techniques behind Milligan’s vocals adds a delicate touch to an already enjoyable tune.

On the fourth track, “Texas” Johnson covers the Buddy Miles/ Mike Bloomfield (Electric Flag) track which is the only straight-ahead blues song.

The track “Gem” uses the guitar sounds to mimic light breaking through a diamond. It is a level of creativity that is seldom heard. “A Change Has Come to Me” harkens the acoustic song style of a previous, late and great, Austin player.

This is a brilliant album that players will immediately gravitate towards. Casual listeners will find the soundscape not only relaxing but full of depth and textures. Programmers will find the album to have long legs with plenty of tracks for broadcast. Traditional blues fans will find little

that appeals to their limited scope in musical stylings.

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