Blue Dogs – Big Dreamers
I came to this one thinking it was going to be one of many good ole boys CDs but Nah – Blue Dogs have the solid foundation of the Beat Farmers, Del-Lords, the BoDeans & Beat Rodeo. They’re like so many other fun Americana bands that lay their seeds in a musical ground & rake it carefully with guitars, drums & vocals. Water it with melodies & lyrics & produce nothing but well-arranged colorful flowers.
The first tunes put the pedal to the metal immediately. “The Good Ones,” “Big Dreamers,” – optimism all the way. That begins this 41-minute journey into this band’s world on Big Dreamers (Drops June 3–Kennel). Delightful is the best word I can think of. Their first new CD since 2004. “Young Love,” opens with a Rolling Stones type guitar riff, vocals are ZZ Top polished & more positive vibrations shake through.
This South Carolina band is first class all the way. Founded in 1987 — the band has arrangements that are well-thought-out confections in a genre of music that can’t help but get hands clapping, knees pumping & grins spreading.
Is it difficult music? No. It’s not progressive rock it’s music to get into your head, your feet & your pants. Typical little country-living tight tales woven into the best notes they could find to stick between their guitar strings. Produced by Sadler Vaden (electric guitars/acoustic/electric slide guitar, mellotron & vocals) there are 11-picturesque originals featuring Radney Foster (Foster & Lloyd) adds vocals on the excellent “That’s How I Knew,” that Foster also co-wrote. Dobro master Jerry Douglas visits on “The Road You Don’t.” The duo Finnegan Bell is featured on “The Good Road.”
A strong message comes in “Love Is Love Is Love,” rendered bright & sensibly. There’s nothing here that is revolutionary or different. What is evident is the illuminating performance – the enthusiasm, the well-established style that the Blue Dogs have. There’s a delightful drunk-vocalizing style with slight slurring in “If Ever,” that allows the song to stick in your mind like a straw in a cold Margarita.
Seasoned players – Bobby Houck (acoustic guitars/harmonica/vocals), Hank Futch (acoustic & electric upright bass/vocals), Greg Walker (drums/percussion), Dan Wood (electric/acoustic guitars), Charlie Thompson (pedal guitar) with Kai Welch (keyboards), Phillip Lammonds (backing vocals 2 songs), Daren Shumaker (mandolin on “The Road You Don’t”), Warren Bazemore & Shane Williams (backing vocals), Mark Black (sax), Charlton Singleton (trumpet/vocal), Bryan Mahanes (handclaps) & Nik Holcum (vintage cymbals/snare drums).
There’s even a bit of Stax Studios-Booker T & the MGs via Gary U.S. Bonds, Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes with Huey Lewis’ sweetness in “Carolina Grand.” Nice soulful vocals, cruises steadily. How can you not smile while listening to the Blue Dogs? I can’t.
Color photo courtesy of Blue Dogs website. The CD available @ iTunes + https://www.bluedogs.com/home