Review: Tail Dragger & Bob Corritore – Longtime Friends In The Blues

Posted on: Thursday, May 31, 2012


Tail Dragger & Bob Corritore – Longtime Friends In The Blues

(Delta Groove Music: DGPCD150)

For all lovers of pure, unadulterated lowdown and sweaty Chicago blues straight out of the clubs and juke joints . . . a great collaboration between two old pals, as the album title, “Longtime Friends In The Blues” suggests. The Arkansas-born Tail Dragger – James Yancy Jones – who relocated to Chicago in the 1960s and Arizona’s much in-demand Bob Corritore – harmonica player, band leader, club owner and even DJ!

Tail Dragger’s stage name was bestowed on him by no less a blues legend than the mighty Howlin’ Wolf, as he often turned up late for gigs and used to sit in while Wolf was on a break . . . and here he delivers the same tough and gritty vocals as the late iconic bluesman. He and Bob Corritore actually met and played together for the first time in 1976 at The 1815 club on Chicago’s West Side, at a tribute for Howlin’ Wolf, who had died the day before . . . the beginning of a lifetime friendship and musical connection.

On this ten track set the songs are all Tail Dragger compositions, apart from one cover, and they are joined by a stellar band comprising of: Kirk Fletcher and Chris James (guitar), Henry Gray (piano), Patrick Rynn (bass) and Brian Fahey (drums) – and together they lay down an authentic tough Chicago blues template from the 50s or 60s, with the album beautifully produced by Corritore, and overseen by label CEO, Randy Chortkoff, the executive producer here.

The only cover present is a lovely “Sugar Mama”, from the first Sonny Boy Williamson, with the vocals shared by Tail Dragger and pianist Henry Gray . . . it epitomises the whole collection, with Corritore’s fine harmonica and the intertwining guitars of Fletcher and James, all pushed along by the solid rhythm section of Rynn and Fahey. The upbeat shuffle of “Happy Birthday” is another standout and fairly rattles along, with Tail Dragger’s lowdown and dirty vocal to the fore and fine contributions again from all the band.

Henry Gray’s piano is superb throughout and he gets a chance to shine on the riveting “Cold Outdoors”, with Bob Corritore’s harmonica both tough and tender on this; “So Ezee” continues in the same uptempo vein; with the pace taken down on “Through With You”, a slower blues and Tail Dragger’s ‘Wolf-inspired’ vocal sounding as sinister as the great man.

“Boogie Woogie Ball”, not surprisingly sees Henry Gray to the front again with his rocking boogie piano, and him and Tail Dragger having fun with some spoken word sparring – the rest of the band right on the button, as they are all through. This fine album closes with the lengthy “Please Mr. Jailer”, another slow and intense blues, and a fitting close to a highly recommended release for all who enjoy true, traditional Chicago blues at its honest and ‘real’ best.


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