Ruff Kutt Blues Band
THAT'S WHEN THE BLUES BEGINS
James Goode, electric bassist and composer of the 14 original tracks, supports along with “Gentleman” John Street (keys), Wes Starr (drums), Eric Przygocki (upright bass), Ron Jones (sax) and Steven Richardson (harmony vocals). The slow drag “Deep Elam Blues” opens with Tasby memorializing the legendary Dallas neighborhood, his burnished mahogany voice matched by Harmon’s deep blue axe. The smoldering funk of “Blues in My Blood” describes Tasby to a “T” while Harmon again picks dark azure notes. Gulf Coast R&B reverberates in the slow weeper “Don’t Make You Cry” with Tasby calling out his cheating woman and Jones responding with silky sax retorts. Harmon displays his equally mellifluous vocals on the rocking shuffle “Oh Woman,” Jones likewise “singing” through his horn and Funderburgh teasing with choice licks. Tasby next gets “Down So Low” his “belly’s on the ground” on a lilting minor key progression punctuated by Harmon’s prickly six-string exhortations.
“Bare Foot Blues” swings like Derek Jeter, Tasby bemoaning “I got the bare foot blues…I drank too much booze,” and dueting seamlessly with his guitar. The chugging shuffle “Blues Ain’t a Color” finds Harmon proclaiming “The blues ain’t a color when you’re going wrong, hits you when you’re knowing that you’re all alone,” his loquacious guitar adding “hues” to the lyrics. He continues the lost love theme on the gently grooving title cut, his quivering vocal vibrato intensifying his “call and response” with the chorus via “When you leave (That’s when the blues begin), when you’re gone (The pain never ends).” Funderburgh fills tastily and solos dynamically on the rolling shuffle “That Woman Gives Me Fever,” Harmon lustily lauding the heat emanating from his heart’s desire. The end game drives the snappy shuffle “I’m Over You Woman,” Harmon stating with palpable relief, “You’re a lazy woman, took my money and walked away…when you walked out that door, Lord, you made my day.”
The urgent minor key shuffle “Going to Bluesville” expresses the dichotomy of having the blues and wanting them as a release, Harmon singing “Gonna write about women that treat you like a fool, gonna write about having no money and how the world can be so cruel…I’m going to Bluesville with my guitar in my hand, down to the promise land” while Funderburgh squeezes stinging lines. Harmon gives advice to the lovelorn on “If I were you, I’d walk on by. I wouldn’t even talk to her, I wouldn’t even try” on “Touched by Her Flame,” a classic 8-bar R&B ballad graced by Harmon’s hip chord melody and bittersweet solo. Tasby leers “I can’t control myself, when we’re out on the floor, you make my heart start pounding and yelling for more” on the sensual shuffle “Let’s Dance.” Ending the set on a jaunty boogie beat, Harmon eulogizes a Who’s Who of dead blues legends with “When a bluesman goes to heaven, Lord, he’s the coolest man around…he built his life at the crossroads, Lord, now he’s heaven bound” as Harmon and Funderburgh trade licks in exuberant tribute.
The triple-threat of Harmon, Tasby and Funderburgh chase the blues away with an ease that belies their total artistic command. If the music was a physical malady, their cure would be the prescriptive anyone would gladly take.
Dave Rubin, KBA recipient in Journalism