Sound: Being a blues town, Cleveland has an impressive blues scene. No wonder now there's a whole CD with songs from local Guitar Summit, dedicated to the town. Cleveland Blues Guitar Summit, Vol.1, released on Tri-C's Crooked River Groove (CRG) Records and is produced by Tommy Wiggins. 12-track CD features eight star bluesman, including Travis Moonchild Haddix, Austin Walkin' Cane Charanghat, Alan Greene, Frank Silk Smith among others. Some tracks, represented on the album, can't be heard anywhere else -- like Travis "Moonchild" Haddix Open Book that doesn't appear on any Haddix CDs. Musicians as well pay the dues to their predecessors -- Mr. Downchild does a bar room blues version of Elmore James' I Can't Hole Out. That's All Right by Frankie Starr and Alan Greene starts like a dialog with a harp evolving into harp-and-voice duet, supported by guitars.
The CD is a compilation of live recordings, but the quality is so good you often start to doubt it's not a studio record. Each track has an outstanding guitar solo and the CD includes two brilliant jams -- a wonderful case study for those dreaming to learn to jam. Cleveland Blues Guitar Summit, Vol.1 closes with one of them -- energetic Every Day I Have The Blues co-played by Travis, Alan, Frank and Bob.
It's an easygoing record and it'll get you hooked, no matter if you're a music expert or whatever it is on the radio listener. The huge advantage of the record is -- whatever you're usually listening to, this music will not irritate you. // 8
Lyrics: Listening to the songs you realize the big difference between music as it used to be and your every-day listen on the radio -- it's in the singing. When it comes to vocals, today's quality mark is something like he's singing as if he's been through it all himself. On Cleveland Blues Guitar Summit, Vol.1 the musicians sing from the heart -- not only they've been through it all themselves, but it feels like they're going through all of that again. Apart from that they demonstrate some colorful vocals -- like Austin Walking Cane Charanghat sings Look On Younder's Wall in a way that would leave Joe Cocker jealous.
The lyrics are very simple, but not primitive. Universal topics that never get old and you can't guess if the song was written 50 years or 2 months ago. // 8
Overall Impression: The CD was recorded at two RAT @ The Rock concerts in March and August 2005 at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. Represented by Cuyahoga Community College, it has a help from students and staff of the Recording Arts & Technology Program. That's a nice way to connect real blues professionals with pupils and let the learners see how it needs to be done.
Even though all the artists on the project are blues stars, most of them are quite frankly unknown to the wide audience and there's a promotional side here as well. The CD booklet contains a nice list of summaries, introducing you to the artists, telling their musical life-path, achievements and their websites.
Cleveland Blues Guitar Summit, Vol. 1 is not an outstanding record and it's definitely not a must in your CD collection, but it's a nice LP with a bit of soul inside. // 8
- Kosh (c) 2006