“No Time To Waste” by the Broken Arrow Blues Band.
First of all there is a certain thing, a “first of all.” They’re about to embark on a tour of the Southern States. I call it red state culture shock, but what do they call it? My guess is, going back where the blues came from, and make your mark on it, Motor City-style. That’s what they have essentially already done with the album “No Time to Waste.”
Perhaps Chris Leigh, the guitarist, is the best in electric blues today. I’ve seen this cat grow. His licks are quite overwhelming. The best that rock has to throw at the Blues. There are 10 Tunes. Let’s take a look at them in reverse order, starting with “No Time to Waste.” Okay, the river is rising. But what does that mean? The way it always does in American Music. The compelling refrain and the guitar compete with real zeal in the first song. Now to the very last tune we have is the title cut, “No Time to Waste.”
No veteran performers have any time to waste when they are rising to the top. What do you think? The organ has something to say ab0ut this. So does the electric piano. Who is that vocalist? I feel like it is the thirties or forties again, right now. Real sophistication here. And in the tasty horn, Mississippi Saxophone, I should better say. One thing it doesn’t sound like is in a hurray.
Real zeal never felt so easy. No time, all the time in the world. Now track nine is just too real, to not feel no blues. It is called “Mugshot.” I have a feeling something has been held back from the girl that she could cause some trouble over. Some real blues. Your best not to leave a woman like this out in the dark. But it ends unresolved like the blues is just gonna be, most of the time.
Forget about chronology. From the beginning to the very end this CD is red hot and blue to the bone. Track two rocks the blues. “She Don’t Know,” which could mean just about anything. It is the blues. Hard driving. Interesting sparse effects that make a great deal of difference. This is not the music of overindulgence, anything but that. I got that at the Superbowl. Strong guitar playing glues the entire thing together.
“Holler Stomp Dance,” is track four. It is slide guitar heaven, y’all. I hear some blues greats in this one. West coast blues. Very tidy, moves right along. A powerful and tough bridge. But the real action here is slide. Think Roy Rogers and Calvin Cooke and Robert Randolph.
It is so powerful you gonna wind up on the killing floor. The organ rips. Well done my Motor City cohorts that I scarcely know, ‘cept through the music. It started with some pretty powerful slide, then she turned into a rabbit chase. Very tidy. Riff success here, major success. Don’t do it, chainsaw man. Nasty slide. Powerful enough to go to hell and back. Which is the best on the album. You guessed it, track four, “Holler Stomp Dance.” But did you know that the drummer is an original American, or I’d better say, from first time around American stock. This song has a deeper meaning about Nature-driven ritual that I can feel, but may not fully understand.
Want Hard Times! I give you that, with “Muddy Water Blues,” track six. It just can’t quit, it transcends. The Delta with a modern but still traditional sound, not as funky a Chess recording, but it is on the mark just the same. Again the slide is the haunting factor. It is electric blues with a good-sized nod to the lowlands. Not the hill country, no, the flat lands. There are a lot of deceased Delta greats I’d like to call home to listen to this one.
Track seven and eight are a treat, a double decker shot of the blues. First “Put Up or Shut Up” lays down a powerful proposition on seven, and eight, “My Turn To Play swings and shakes with soul, too. Any way you cut it, they’ve gone nationwide already. America, make way for the Broken Arrow Blues Band.
George Seedorff, “The Music Review Siren,” Copyright 2013
Howard Glazer chosen Outstanding Blues/R&B Instrumentalist 2014– Guitar
The Detroit Music Awards Foundation is a Michigan 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, whose mission is to recognize Detroit area musicians working on a national, regional and local level. Its purpose is also to support and nurture the musical community in the Detroit metropolitan area, and to create a network for musicians that cuts across genres and styles.
DMAF awards are similar to the Grammy Awards presented by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Award winners are determined by local musicians and music industry professionals in southeast Michigan, and presented in ten music genres; Folk/Acoustic, Blues, Jazz, Gospel, Country, Classical, Rock/Pop, R&B/Hip-Hop, Electronic and World. The DMA is the only local music awards in the nation to be presented by a not-for -profit organization. Voting is accomplished entirely via the Internet.
Howard is honored to be selected by his peers to receive this award from the talented list of nominees and musicians that abound in Detroit.
The Blog Is has already reported that the Horse Cave Trio’s music is American Music with more than just a mild nod to the South. Kentucky. Memphis. But there’s way more to the story than that. Band leader, vocalist and bass player Ron DeVore began with a rough concept. The idea was to go back in spirit to the Sun Records studio of the early ’50s and revisit the chemistry that produced rock ‘n’ roll in the first place–the marriage of country and blues. But let the music be contemporary, too. Just as Elvis begat rock ‘n’ roll, which begat rock music, so did he and his like-minded cohorts feed and sustain rock-a-billy. As time went on, rock-a-billy has come to be more of an historical form. This while rock ‘n’ roll remained, then and now, capable of growth, change and evolution, if not revolution. Rock as it broke out stayed progressive, has always been able to take on other interpretations. The jam band constantly invents. Rock is here to stay, we hope and believe, and here to change, always. But there is plenty of room for more historical forms as well.
Rock-a-billy vs. Rock ‘n’ Roll
Rock ‘n’ roll is therefore active, changeable, while rock-a-billy is much more static and, may I say, conservative. An historical form, just like pre-War acoustic blues. Keb Mo. Ry Cooder. They look at artists like Johnny Shines and make that acoustic form take on contemporary overtones. It boils over with excitement and innovation. Where the Horse Cave Trio breaks the mold is in their willingness to make rock-a-billy something new. That is why rock-a-billy may not be the best way to describe them, so let’s call it roots music. Electric blues continues to grow, too. Johnny Winter. John Mooney. Bonnie Raitt. Their blues-based electric slide work remains cutting edge, but not at the expense of the tradition of the blues. They and many others like them let the music grow. Reflect on the past, but don’t be constrained by it. Mixing it up with rock they take it to new places. Cross-genre expression is a good thing. The Horse Cave trio has taken the Sun sound of old and allows it to catch up to modern times. Didn’t Bob Dylan come out with an album called Modern Times not that long ago? Dylan has always made his music a melting pot of American Music. These people all allow the music it grow. Folk, Rock, Country, it’s all good. Horse Cave is not constrained by the past. They work with it, keep the music fresh and new. It’s what they do. There is no fear of engaging in cross-genre excursions. That DeVore and company are a Sun Records inspired band cannot be denied. But while they have been called a rock-a-billy band, I say no. They’re not a dress-up act. Not a nostalgic costume party. As progressives they were sometimes criticized by rock-a-billy purists in the beginning.
Band Gains Wide Acceptance
That didn’t last long, though. From the beginning they were widely accepted by blues audiences, and on the festival circuit, with a sound that is infused with contemporary rock and country, it is no surprise. Call it Hillbilly music. Hank Williams was that. After 10 years at it, Horse Cave Trio are admired for being loose and forward looking, but also for having the feel of a jam band. They jam out, always looking for new turns. Having won over rock-a-billy audiences by now, what in the final analysis does it matter what to call them other than very good. So call it rock-a-billy if you want to. But they are never a costume group. Yet all of this serves to generate some degree of controversy. What of rock-a-billy. Is it chopped liver? There is room for it all. Rock-a-billy as we generally know it today looks back in celebration of early rock ‘n’ roll. But the problem is that this genre often tries to recreate it note for note. But lets take a broad view. If the rock-a-billy cats sometimes dress up to look the part, how different is that from the blues fedora, or or the cowboy hats so coveted by Young Country and Texas Swing? Elvis first emerged as the white country rocker who built his music on Mississippi blues. He is called an innovator. The question is, was the King of Rock’ n’ Roll a rock-a-billy artist when he first plied his craft and began to look for something new? I think not. Elvis and his contemporaries, some might call them Elvis imitators, started something really big in motion. Rock ‘n’ roll. As the King got older, paunchier and called Vegas his home, he became Elvis the lounge lizard engaged in self parody, perhaps, or the embodiment of nostalgia. The King is dead, long live the king.
This Is Not Dress-up Music
So what of rock-a-billy as a dress-up form? Are we to take Brian Setzer to task for his on-stage attire? Is there anything wrong with playing a bright orange Gretsch? Is there any real harm in costuming? This is show business. Elvis gave rise to legions of “Elvistas” as tribute acts–a whole industry of working artists who are in great demand on cruise ships and elsewhere. What of ’50s nostalgia? Marlin Brando in the “Wild Ones.” The cult of the black leather motorcycle jacket. The joy of the pomp. Isn’t this just innocent fun? I say if there is little to rock-a-billy other than empty artifice, then the Horse Cave Trio is to be hailed for not relying on costuming, other than a bit of a working class edge, and more inclined to let the music do the talking. When Horse Cave opened for Jimmy Vaughn, at Callahan’s Music Hall recently, he said to Ron DeVore, “Son, you are a rock-a-billy singer.” Is that not the highest of compliments to our own Motor City Sun-inspired trio? Jimmy Vaughn ain’t bad company to keep. But don’t look for costumes, black leather or cowboy hats. What you will get is a touch of blue collar which is entirely appropriate for the roots of rock ‘n’ roll. To get a proper idea of just how good this record is, you will have to buy it. It rocks. It jams. Hillbilly rock ‘n’ roll is what the Horse Dave Trio does, and they do it just about better than anybody else. –George Seedorff, Copyright 2012