Blues Before and After
Milton Hopkins & Jewel Brown, Omar Dykes, Gary Primich, and The Moving Blues
Reviewed by Chase Hoffberger, Fri., July 6, 2012
Top billing goes to guitarist Milton Hopkins, but it's singer Jewel Brown who deserves the lion's share of credit on the duo's self-titled release for Dialtone. Touching on gospel ("How Can I Lose") and stride music ("Daddy Daddy"), the album rides Brown's Mavis Staples-style power, while Hopkins likely learned a trick or two from his late cousin, a Houston bluesman named Lightnin'. Self-described as 300 pounds of muscle and joy, Omar Dykes unveils his Essential Collection (Ruf Records) on two CDs: his Best Of with the Howlers and Omar's Picks, a collection of Dykes' 15 favorites from the past 32 years. It's on the latter you'll find Texas heat like "Burn It to the Ground," but the former holds "Muddy Springs Road," a tribute to Dykes' South Mississippi roots. The big man lends his hand to seven tracks on late great harpist Gary Primich's Just a Little Bit More ... (Old Pal Records), a 2-CD set spanning the Chicago native's 25 years with his Mannish Boys and as an Austin solo act. Primich shines on the slowed down "September Song," but otherwise maintains a "House Rockin' Party" throughout, paying homage to Jimmy Reed ("Caress Me Baby") and Duke Ellington in the process ("Caravan"). The last needle in this haystack comes via guitarist Mike Lindner and his Moving Blues, which dumps a Texas flood of 12-bar "Blues for the Vitaminless Food" on third LP Movin' in Time. There's always something to help move your feet, be it the bleeding-gum blues emanating from Mark Stedman's harp on "Whole Lotta Leverage" or the reckless overdrive of high-octane guitar on "Where You Been?". "I Don't Fold No Dishrags," sings Lindner, but man, he helped me scrub a mean pot.