Leo Hull

Leo Hull
Bootleggin’ the Blues


By Lady K
February 2013

While he was born in Oklahoma, Leo Hull and his Silvertone headed to Dallas in the ‘60s; from whence he has been singing and playing, and writing – earning accolades as guitarist, singer and barroom poet from his roadhouse fans. The band behind Leo Hull – the Texas Blues Machine – includes Buddy Whittington (guitar), Ron DiIulio (keyboard), Jerry Hancock (bass), Larry Randall (sax), Chuck “Popcorn” Lowden and Warren Dewey (drums). All of the tunes on Bootleggin’ the Blues were written and arranged by Leo Hull.

Readers who recall that she is allergic to twang, may understand that this was a ‘hard write’ for Lady K. There’s twang in Bootleggin’ the Blues (well, not really over-the-top ‘twang’, sort of less ‘country’ more ‘western’). When weighing the good and less good, Lady K found ever-so-much to like about Hull’s terrific rocking blues guitar and husky, weathered singing voice; plus there’s a lot of honky-tonk piano and nifty sax stuff happening, lots of things that keep the tunes in Lady K’s comfort zone (and it’s all about Lady K).

“The Hustle” is a mid-tempo shuffle about how hard it is to attain one’s goals, showing that one doesn’t always get what one expects to from this life: “Jody went to Hollywood, she gonna be a star / now she’s makes her money working the backseat of a car” (which kinda emphasizes the importance of having a Plan B).

Another venue for earning a living is depicted in the vagabond life of a dedicated bluesman in “Road Hard:” “it’s good being on the road man, tryin’ hard to be number one / I play the blues in Dallas, play down in Austin too, late night on the road I can hear old Stevie Ray singing the blues.” In a tribute to Texas blues, “Between You and Me” is a slow shuffle, about the idols gone before him; knowing that somewhere up ahead he’ll get to play the blues with them: “If you ain’t played the blues in Texas, then son, you ain’t played the blues.”

“Blowtorch Baby” is swinging, bluesy, sexy – all the things that make good blues music. He sings “call me, pretty mama, when you got a little time to pass’ / you are a red-hot mama, you on fire all the time, I need a blowtorch, baby, to cool you down and make you mine.” “Blowtorch Baby” contains killer sax and guitar lead, and then killer sax and piano, and all with a rocking back-beat.

In the rockin’ “Whiskey and Women” he’s opining on the virtues of both whiskey and women, and thinking he needs to make a choice – which one to go, which one to stay: “whiskey and women that’s what it’s all about – whiskey on one hand keep you happy all day long, but a good woman on a cold night keep you warm / guitars and women make you want to shout – the players all know what I’m talkin’ bout.” Decisions, decisions ... perhaps, he decides, he should just write a new song about keeping both whiskey and women: “Have a big old shot of whiskey, find a woman bad to the bone.”

“Pistol #69” contains kick-ass blues guitar, honky-tonk piano (if the country-western sound doesn’t make you crazy, this track is so good). He met a lady of ‘considerable means’ and ended up at her place, but was a little leery: “I said, honey, are you attached, and please tell me, do, because those boots in the corner don’t look like they’ll fit you.” Life on the road: “things got hot and heavy, I heard a large commotion, woke up staring at the light / saw a pistol flash before me, and in the twinkle of an eye, I hit the door in two steps and didn’t even say goodbye.”

Lady K is surprised to say that she really likes Leo Hull and the Texas Blues Machine, and Bootleggin’ the Blues.

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