Billy Flynn

Billy Flynn
Blues Drive

Land O’ Blues Records

By Art Tipaldi
September 2009

If you check out the musicians on the soundtrack of Cadillac Record, you'll find Chicago guitarist Billy Flynn brings that soundtrack alive. Flynn has been a mainstay on the Windy City scene for decades. This two disc, 19 song outing demonstrates Flynn’s diverse approach. He can speak the blues language of West Siders like Jimmy Dawkins or Otis Rush, blow gritty harp, add a mandolin to recreate the string band traditions and play smooth, straight ahead jazz on the guitar.

Flynn’s band includes Roosevelt Purifoy on keys, Felton Crews on bass and Ricky Nelson on drums, with special guest Kim Wilson singing and playing harmonica on five cuts from the first disc. Flynn and the band blow in on the instrumental title cut. From there, Flynn plays “Hearts On Fire” with the sparse guitar of an Otis Rush. On the third cut, “Big Money Problems,” Wilson’s distinctive, one of a kind vocal approach tends to ground Flynn’s minor key solos. Some of the best music can be found in the extended instrumentals where Flynn and his band hold impressive conversations. “Blue Mood” features a relaxing give and take between Flynn and Purifoy. On “Night Blues,” Purifoy’s piano sets the foundation for Flynn’s lush, jazz influenced guitar. “Shakin The Boogie” has Wilson blowin’ and whoopin’ acoustic harp with Flynn while the four minutes of “Blues Thru The Winter Time” is mostly Wilson and Flynn playin’ what they most live.

Where the first disc features solid blues, the second disc offers Flynn and his band eight untypical musical adventures that show off all the music they love. “Tearin’ It Up” has the band doin’ its Sly Stone soul, circa 1970. The funk continues with “Sitar Blues,” where his sitar and piano explore music’s outer edges. The band swaggers through the jazz guitar cut “New Beginnings” and “Lady J,” the after hours, guitar harp tune which features Flynn’s own harmonica and guitar interplay. The party ends with Flynn doing B.B. King’s “Whole Lotta Love” as it might have sounded as part of Rush’s Cobra sessions.

Whether he backs Chicago blues women like Deitra Farr or Nora Jean Bruso around the world, or adds his expertise to the thirty plus records he’s recorded, the soft spoken Flynn lets his guitar and musical expertise speak volumes.

<- back to Features