Dennis Gruenling

Dennis Gruenling
I Just Keep Lovin' Him-a Tribute to Little Walter

Backbender Records BBR 708V

By Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
September 2008

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Using several harmonica maestros on a disc dedicated to one of the all time harmonica giants - Little Walter - seems like a fitting thing to do.

And that's exactly what Dennis Gruenling did.

Being a formidable player himself, on I Just Keep Lovin' Him, Gruenling is joined by Kim Wilson, Rick Estrin and Steve Guyger - all Little Walter enthusiasts - on harmonica and vocals; along with Dave Gross, Bill Hunt, Rusty Zinn and Bob Welsh on guitar.

On bass, he has Scot Hornick, Steve Wolf and Kedar Roy; and Mike Bram and Marty Dodson on drums.

There’s also Doug “Big Daddy” Sasfai on sax; and - last but certainly not least – Mrs. Gruenling - Gina Fox on vocals.

Attempting to avoid this tribute from being a compilation of overdone covers of Little Walters' greatest hits, Gruenling chose some of the legend’s more obscure works.

The list includes: “Up the Line,” “Lovin' Man,” “I Got To Go,” “Hot Shot,” “Too Young To Know,” “Corbella,” “If You Were Mine,” “My Little Machine,” “Teenage Beat,” “As Long As I Have You,” “Temperature,” “One Of These Mornings,” “That's It,” and “You're Sweet.”

Not being a vocalist himself, Gruenling distributed that duty equally among the four band mates who do sing.

“Lovin' Man” features Guyger singing like one of the many great Chicago bluesmen he's backed up throughout the years, with he and Gruenling both getting in their share of hot licks on the harp.

“Hot Shot” is a hot instrumental. This one features Gruenling alone, and quite aptly, handling the harp work, with great rhythm from Bram and Hornick on the drums and standup bass; and sharp, steady guitar from Dave Gross.

Estrin, with clearly one of the most distinguishable voices, takes over the microphone on “Too Young To Know.” On this track, the man, whose magnetism is surpassed by none, also provides some of the best harp work on the disc.

Doing what seems to come naturally to her, Gina Fox heats it up a bit on “If You Were Mine.” Sultry is a word that - if not careful - can easily become redundant when she is the topic. This track also features tremendous sax work from Big Daddy.

Oddly enough, “Teenage Beat” - an instrumental track that features Gruenling, Estrin, and Wilson all kickin' it on harp - is highlighted by the rhythm section. Wolf and Dodson are absolutely on fire on this one.

It's Wilson's turn to lead on “As Long As I Have You,” and when he's leading, you can never go wrong. Being one of the most soulful white singers these ears have ever heard, and certainly one of the best at blowin' a harp, automatically makes this another of the disc’s best.

The two of you reading this who aren't harp fans need not pay further attention. However, the rest of you need to head on over to and grab yourself a copy of I Just Keep Lovin’ Him. While you're there, you just might look into taking some harp lessons. Who knows, maybe in 20 or 30 years I'll be saying all this good stuff about you!

EDITOR’S NOTE: This review has been complimentary written for our ezine by Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro, a contributing writer for BLUESWAX and the blues editor at, where you can read many more CD and live show reviews, view lots of blues photographs and find an abundance of blues material. He can be reached at [email protected]

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