Review: Jeff Dale and the South Woodlawners – Good Music

Posted on: Thursday, Nov 6, 2014

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Jeff Dale and the South Woodlawners – Good Music

(Pro Sho Bidness: PSB 4080)

As a youngster growing up in Chicago’s Southside Jeff was not only exposed and increasingly surrounded by the blues in all its forms but, he was ultimately engulfed, and that precise  moment arrived when as 13 year old he advertised a bass guitar for sale and as a consequence of that advert two Westside musicians turned up on his doorstep to view and test the guitar, from the initial enquiry the two men then proceeded to test the instrument and in doing so played a 20 minute set in Jeff’s very own living room, included in the set was a lesson in chords and riffs. From that moment on he was hooked, determined to have a life playing the blues, in fact he went on to back artists such as; Lowell Fulson, Pee Wee Crayton, Honeyboy Edwards, and Etta James.

He recorded a couple of albums during the 80s but for one reason or another he and his career faded away but, in two thousand and nine he re-emerged with his band the South Woodlanders, this album being the third release so far in his renaissance.

Jeff provides lead vocals and guitar, the album was recorded in both his new home of Los Angeles and his old and spiritual home of Chicago; gathering together a mixture of old friends and faces who are; Tim Austin and Mark Mack; drums, Andre Howard, Andre “Big Perm” McCottrey, and Orlando Wright; bass, Glen Doll, Jeff Stone, and Chef Denis Depoitre; harmonica, Jim Jedeiken; saxophone, Derek Phillips; keyboards and last but not least Charlie Love; guitar to create 12 numbers of warmth, humour, introspection and footappingly invigorating good music.

Not only is Jeff in tune with classic blues but, he also possesses a quirky sense of humour as he displays in the warmth filled loping and rolling piano and bubbling harmonica of “Good Music”, which follows the principle of Louis Armstrong that there is only good or bad music whatever other people might call it. The jaunty thought provoking “Birmingham Jail”, is based around the letter that Doctor Martin Luther King wrote concerning justice and righteousness whilst incarcerated in that Birmingham jail.

“Final Destination”, is rather intriguing, for the deeply, deeply melancholic emotions that are evoked from this number are achieved by the  pairing of a low dawdling and rolling organ and an extremely mournfully sliding cello, courtesy of the Los Angeles Opera cellist Dane Little. Another classically trained musician lends their skills to the blues for “Murder”, an old friend of Jeff’s the Oboist Marilyn Schram from the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra lays down a hauntingly eerie spine chilling solo that interweaves menacingly through a slowly swinging, tramping 50s low rent noir thriller.

On a lighter note “Naked Woman In My Bed”, deals with the age old problem just what do bluesmen do when in the mornings they find a naked woman in their bed the answer is given in a brass punching, piano and bass rolling, harmonica stabbing  shuffler. “Wagon Wheel”, takes us back to the alcohol, nicotine and sweat infused atmospheres of late night clubs where raw, pulse rising, enticing slowburning, electrified blues is the order of the day. Splendid!

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BRIAN HARMAN

www.jeffdaleblues.com

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