Steve Guyger

Steve Guyger
Radio Blues

Severn Records - Severn CD 0044

By T Charles
August 2008

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Steve Guyger’s new record, Radio Days, which made its debut in March, will make old and new blues fans feel right at home. Nothing adds authenticity to a blues band like the harp, and Guyger “brings it.” He combines his tool, and soul, to make the harp sing, growl and roar like a freight train.

The disc provides a bluesy mood that isn’t always present on some of the newer blues albums. Every track feels traditional, and it should, because the album was inspired by the blues of Muddy, Wolf, Little Walter and others who played in the fifties and sixties. Play this one and immerse yourself in a blues bath of almost 53 minutes. Little Walter would approve.

With some blues artists, particularly those new to the scene, many songs sound similar. Guyger avoids this path, injecting every song with something a little different. He wrote ten of the 14 songs on this disc.

This whole disc goes on my Blues playlist.

“Lookie Here” gets the body moving right away. It sets the stage with solid harp and guitar solos. With lyrics such as: “Gonna be a change in your life/gonna make you my wife/gonna buy you a new pair of shoes,” does he know how to talk to a woman or what?

“Cool in the Evening” slows down the pace for the first time, and reminds me of the early Ray Charles approach to blues - soft and moody. Bill Heid adds exactly the right touch with tasty accents on the ivories. Guyger’s harp work and vocals complain about losing his best friend and lover to another man — one of the worst experiences a guy can have.

Guyger gives another slow and earthy complaint on “Blues Won’t Let Me Be.” Listen for the innovative and full-throated harp solo that feels like a wave of sound. He gets a sound from the harp I haven’t heard in Chicago, or anywhere else.

Don’t try to sit still on “School is Over.” Guyger makes the harp warble and wobble on this one. Reminds me of a freight train. “Afgan Rumble,” the album’s first instrumental, keeps the groove, and adds some variety. Is this Guyger’s comment on the Afghanistan war?

On “Oh Red,” written by Joe McCoy, drummer Rob Stupka leads the band with punchy chops that provide the structure for Steve et al. Johnny Moeller (who has since joined the Fabulous Thunderbirds) provides the steady, tasty licks on guitar.

Another slow blues number, “I Can See By Your Eyes,” talks about the pain of noticing that his love has gone bad by seeing it in her eyes. Know the feeling? It’s not quite as bad as hearing it “through the grapevine.” The song blends a kind of doo-wop feel with sad moans delivered via harp and voice that tell the tale of a lovin’ feelin lost.

On “Won’t You Come Out Tonight,” Guyger seems to have recovered somewhat, and wants to get something going with a new love. Here, Moeller lets fly a solo with soul. Later, Guyger comes back with his full-throated sound.

“Let Me Hang Around” is Guyger’s most deliberate tip-of-the-hat to Muddy Waters on the disc. This song may also remind you of Eric Clapton’s singing style on his From the Cradle disc.

Joe Liggins wrote the final track, “Honeydripper,” another instrumental that is an excellent addition to a truly fine disc. Guyger and his collaborators put the work in, and I particularly love the variety of slow blues, different tempos, and two instrumentals.

For anyone new to the blues, I would place Guyger among the few white men who can pull off blues convincingly. This disc will provide many years of enjoyment.

After hearing this album, I am eager to see this guy play live! Please come to Boston.

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