Ruff Kutt Blues Band

Ruff Kutt Blues Band
That’s When the Blues Begins

Vizztone

By Lady K.
April 2014

First of all, let me say that there’s nothing ‘ruff’ about this blues band.

The Ruff Kutt Blues Band was birthed by James Good in 2011; this album is the 2nd from the band, and it’s all about the blues. All tracks were written or co-written by Good,and he plays bass. The other players are Zac Harmon (guitars, vocals); Finis Tasby (vocals); Anson Funderbugh (guitar); Gentleman John Street (keyboards); Wes Starr (drums); Ron Jones (sax); Steven Richardson (vocals); and Eric Przygocki (upright bass). Of special note: this album was finished and includes the last recordings by Finis Tasby, before he suffered a debilitating stroke in December 2012.

The CD starts with Tasby vocalizing a slow “Deep Elam Blues,” along with Harmon making his presence known playing killer guitar. It’s a tune about Dallas’ Elam ‘hood, and one of Lady K’s favorites (but there are a lot of those on this CD). He’s out on the street in Elam: “I’m down on the corner, got my heart in my hand / I’m lookin’ for a woman, a woman that ain’t got no man.” And Tasby has “Blues in My Blood,” a mid-tempo tune that is funky, with his vocals performing a duet with Harmon’s guitar.

“Don’t It Make You Cry” is a slow tune with Tasby singing lead, and backup vocals giving it a Motown sound and feel, while imparting the mournful lyrics: “When things go so wrong with you, all it do is make me cry / Heartbreak in the 1st degree.” There’s some 1st degree sax from Ron Jones too. “Let’s Dance” is a sexy shuffle and makes it hard to imagine a woman refusing to dance with Tasby as he suggests “You be mine, I’ll feel so fine / I can’t control myself when we out on the floor.”

“Oh Woman” has Zac Harmon as vocalist and is another Lady K fave. Harmon’s vocal notes and Gentleman John’s subtle keyboard make this rockin’ blues tune unforgettable. It’s a love song to his lady: “C’mon over baby, you make my life worthwhile / You make me feel so doggone fine.” Finis Tasby vocals and some honky-tonk piano get things rockin’ again with “Bare Foot Blues.” (“When I woke up this morning, had no money and no shoes – got the barefoot blues / Broke and can’t find my shoes – all beat up.”)

You can try to sit still and listen to Harmon bop out “Blues Ain’t a Color,” but you’re really going to want to move. “Blues ain’t a color, it’s the way you feel / It’s your way of knowing that you’re all alone.” Zac Harmon’s insane guitar opens the title song before he starts singing “That’s When the Blues Begins” – another track in the Lady K favorite column, as Harmon pleads: “When you leave, that’s when the blues begins / Please stay, baby, don’t walk out that door.”

Drums and a throbbing bass kick off the up-tempo “That Woman Gives Me Fever” – with Harmon taking lead vocals: “I was on my way to hell, but lawd now I’m heaven-bound / I couldn’t make it on my own.” Harmon’s rocking blues number “I’m Over You Woman” makes it sound like this wasn’t an especially good relationship:“Didn’t take no time at all – you’re a piece of work, and I’m sorry I got involved / When you walked out the door, you made my day.”

Top of Lady K’s favorite list is “When a Bluesman Goes to Heaven.” It’s a killer tribute to all bluesmen gone before us to that great blues club in the after-life. It’s an uptempo boogie that’ll have all listeners begging to be roadies for the likes of the band that includes Pinetop Perkins, Jimmy Reed, Gatemouth Brown, Robert Johnson, Michael Burkes, Albert and Freddie King and Albert Collins – just to name a few.

The blues begins at the very beginning of That’s When the Blues Begins, but the blues will be with you long after you stop listening to this terrific album.

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