Racky Thomas Goin Home

By Lady K
November 2015

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The Goin’ Home players include Racky Thomas – vocals, harp, guitars/dobro; Pete Henderson – lead guitar; Michael “Mudcat” Ward – bass; Michael Avery – drums; Matt McCabe – piano; John Juxo – accordion; and Carrie Johnson and Shavonne Moore – backup vocals; with Tony Schultz handling the mixing board.

Anyone who has seen a Racky Thomas Band show in the past few months noticed that there were a lot of ‘new’ tunes added to the band’s play list. What we were hearing was a preview of Goin’ Home, Racky’s amazing new CD. What we were hearing wasn’t really ‘new’ tunes, but, rather, really old tunes.

Racky has always been known for his dedication to old blues – if you see a Racky-solo show, you know you’re gonna hear lots of acoustic plantation gospel blues, and lots of decades-old blues.

What Racky has done on the new CD is to record only ‘old blues’ – some really ‘old blues’. Goin’ Home has no original Racky blues! Lady K was kinda sad about that, until she started listening.

In addition to a stellar cast of musicians, Racky has enlisted the help of back-up singers, making Goin’ Home a much ‘bigger’ sounding album - it’s all pretty damned cool!

Lady K was stunned when checking out the list of the tracks, that the album ends with the really (really) old “Goodnight Irene”, a waltz, which was written sometime in the late 1800s (no one really knows for sure when – or by whom).

But what a great choice to actually say ‘goodnight’ to on the last track. It’s such a good choice that Keith Richards used “Goodnight Irene” on his newly released album. Racky’s version of “Irene” is ‘just’ Racky, the backup vocals of Johnson and Shavonne , and Juxo and his accordion. Killer backups shine on several tracks, including “Goin’ Home” (Charlie Patton, 1929), where it sounds more like four or five ladies belting out the backups.

Racky and the ladies also excel on “Mary Don’t You Weep” (Huddie Ledbetter, AKA Leadbelly, early 1900s).

Lady K is definitely not a fan of country music; she was born with a very low twang tolerance. And even though “France Blues”, was written by the very country Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Racky’s version wasn’t especially painful to me (yee-haw). BUT, not to worry, there’s also plenty of rockin’ guitar on “Ready,

Willing and Able” (James Dorman), Otis Spann’s (1962) “Must Have Been the Devil” (which also highlights keyboard and harp), and the 1920’s “Big Road Blues” by Tommy Johnson.

Bluesmen J. Turner and P. Johnson provided two terrific songs that highlight duets with Racky’s vocals and Matt McCabe’s piano: “Goin’ Away Blues” (1938) and “Roll ‘em Pete” (1945). “Stack O’Lee” (Mississippi John Hurt, 1928) is a Racky and guitar duet.

Goin’ Home is just full of blues and blues surprises, all performed by Racky Thomas and his kick-ass band.


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