The Duke Robillard Band With "Monster" Mike Welch

The Duke Robillard Band With "Monster" Mike Welch
Independently Blue

Stony Plain Records (SPCD 1364)

By Georgetown Fats
June 2013

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In a 30+ year music career with some of the accomplishments being co-founding Roomful of Blues, supporting other artists such as Tom Waits and Bob Dylan, writing music for Wham! to Jimmy Witherspoon, it is hard not to inspire other musicians. As a nod of respect to some who could forget more about music than I could ever learn, I’ve borrowed a few quotes regarding Duke Robillard.

“Duke has it all - taste, touch, tone, intensity, nuance, passion, integrity and deep soul. In addition to his remarkable guitar prowess he is a brilliant singer, songwriter, bandleader, producer and accompanist. One of the many mind-boggling facets of Mr. Robillard is his musical range and scope. He can go from gutbucket country blues to urban electricity to uptown, sophisticated jazz and swing and make it all feel natural and right.” - Peter Parcek

“Duke Robillard is a genuine hero of mine, and as I’ve said before, getting the call to make a record together was like being asked by Batman to join him on his crusade against crime. “ – “Monster” Mike Welch

"Duke is a legendary bluesman at this point and perhaps more than any other roots artist in America today is absurdly unrecognized. That said, I also think we haven't heard the entire depths of what he can do. To a certain extent, he is limited by the practicalities of his success in the roots idiom as well as supported by it. If he didn't need his albums to target a certain audience, I know as a fact that he has the chops and intellect to make a brilliant psychedelic rock/blues album, a disc of textural instrumentals with soul … a variety of things that the limitations the marketplace imposes on artists may prevent him from ever aiming to crate. Duke has a profound range within his artistry that many of his fans aren't even capable of grasping." - Ted Drozdowski of Scissorman

Duke Robillard is a big deal, not just to blues but to other styles of music. On Independently Blue, Duke’s latest release from the Stony Plain Records, it is easy to learn just why Duke Robillard is held in such high regard. Backed by Bruce Bears on piano and keyboards, Brad Hallen on bass and Mark Teixeira on drums and percussion, Welch and Robillard coax music running the gamut from swing, jazz, funk rock and blues out of their strings. Opening with the Al Basile penned “I Wouldn’t Have Done That,” Duke and the band produce a blues rock piece that is better with each listen and increased volumes. One can only imagine the track will be received very well during the blues festival season.

On “Patrol Wagon Blues,” with some assistance from Doug Wolverton on trumpet and Billy Novick on clarinet, Duke and the band effortlessly craft some amazing swing-bawdy house blues. To have been a fly on the wall of the studio while the breakdown section on “Patrol Wagon Blues” was recorded would have been one of those goose bump-inducing musical moments which would require a lifetime to recreate.

While the first 11 tracks effortlessly break musical genres, Independently Blue is closed out with ‘nuthin’ but the blues’ on “If This is Love.” While the idiom may be a standard to most original blues songs, Robillard proves that within the right hands, if something ain’t broke there is no need to fix it.

Expect to witness a strong marketing campaign for Independently Blue as both the label and the artist are confident in the quality of the material on it. In this reviewer’s not-so-humble opinion, expect Independently Blue to add to Robillard’s career accomplishments with more well-deserved awards.

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