Review: Dave Riley and Bob Corritore – Lucky To Be Living

Posted on: Thursday, Nov 5, 2009


“Lucky To Be Living”

(Blue Witch Records: BWR106)

Here’s a 10-track treat of downhome blues from the duo of Mississippi born and raised guitarist and singer, Dave Riley, and Chicago-born harmonica player, Bob Corritore – the songs on “Lucky To Be Living” offer a mix of their respective birth locations and upbringings. The duo have a five year working partnership, and this, their second release, features a mix of different writers – including four songs from the pen of the late Frank Frost, with whom Riley worked in the Jelly Roll Kings.

Bob Corritore, as well as being a fine harmonica player, is also a well-known  blues radio show host, and owner of The Rhythm Room venue in Phoenix, Arizona, where he moved to in 1981. Dave Riley was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and when barely a teenager relocated to Chicago. It was after he was drafted to Vietnam that he began to take his music seriously – eventually leading to meeting legends Sam Carr, Frank Frost and John Weston.

The opening “Jelly Roll King”, one of the Frank Frost songs, name checks the likes of John Weston and Doris and Sam Carr – all  now sadly no longer with us, since the recent passing of  Sam Carr, who the duo paid tribute to at the recent Arkansas Blues & Heritage Festival in Helena. Frost’s “Ride With Your Daddy Tonight” features nice solos from guests Henry Gray on piano, and Chris James on guitar.

Dave Riley’s “On My Way” has a nice, stompy feel to it – Mississippi Hill Country flavours to the guitar work and fine harmonica from Bob Corritore, and based on an old gospel melody which Riley put lyrics to. The title track, “Lucky To Be Living”, another Frank Frost tune, sees the duo doffing their caps to departed friends and indeed, that they are blessed to be living and playing fine blues together.

“Back Down The Dirt Road” is a follow up to the title track of their first album, “Travelin’ The Dirt Road”, and is a laid back shuffle, ending with a trademark Dave Riley hysterical laugh and chat. “Let’s Get Together” is another fun uptempo track, driven by Corritore’s harmonica and sparking piano again from Henry Gray. The all-acoustic “Country Rules” sees them stripped right down, plaintive vocal and acoustic guitar from Riley, and sweet harmonica from Corritore.

The late John Weston’s “Sharecropper Blues” is a deep, slow blues, with the guitar and harmonica work of the duo almost telepathic. The closing “Automobile”, from the pen of the very fine Nashville writer and guitarist, Fred James, here delivered as a lazy shuffle, with more fine work from Gray and James.

Blues releases this authentic and downhome are probably not too common these days – nice songs, beautifully played by a fine bunch of musicians, who don’t try to do anything too much ‘outside the box’. Apart from the previously mentioned musicians, the rhythm sections feature drummers Tom Coulson, Eddie Kobek and Frank Rossi, with bass players Dave ‘Yahni’ Riley Jr. and Patrick Rynn.


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