Ervin Charles Greyhound Blues (Dialtone)

Texas Platters

Ervin Charles

Greyhound Blues (Dialtone)

When the faithful went rooting for Texas blues heroes, it's a shame they didn't turn up Ervin Charles a bit sooner. A local legend who anchored the Beaumont blues scene for half a century, Charles was both inspiration and mentor to those who found wider fame, including Long John Hunter and Lonnie Brooks. Despite such credentials, Charles was scarcely known outside of his hometown until 1999's stellar Texas Shootout, in which he more than held his own with Hunter, Brooks, and fellow Texan Philip Walker. Greyhound Blues, recorded last year and released posthumously -- Charles died in April at the age of 68 -- is a study in grit and vulnerability, from the guitarist's sharp and spare lines to his gruntin', growlin' vocals. Charles' friend and fellow Gulf Coaster Richard Earl takes several nice turns on vocals, including the showstopping "Sweet Woman's Love," a plaintive ballad that's the album's deepest and most gratifying track. At their best, Charles and Earl evoke the classic R&B stylings of a Bobby Bland or Otis Rush, adding meaning with every lilt and tumble of their weary, knowing voices. To be sure, neither shows the breadth of classic Bland, Greyhound Blues starting to sound a bit familiar by album's end, but the very fact that Charles so often hits the same note is a small quibble this welcome, if belated, chapter in Texas blues history.


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Guy Forsyth & Jeska Bailey
Conspirators (Record Review)

Reid Jowers, Sept. 27, 2019

Texas Platters
The Texas Horns
Get Here Quick (Record Review)

Jay Trachtenberg, Sept. 20, 2019

More by Jay Hardwig

Nov. 9, 2001

Habitat for Humanity Builds More Than Houses Foundation of Faith
Habitat for Humanity Builds More Than Houses Foundation of Faith

Nov. 7, 1997

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle