Omar Kent Dykes
Big Town Playboy (Ruf Records)
Reviewed by Margaret Moser, Fri., May 15, 2009
Omar Kent DykesBig Town Playboy (Ruf Records)
When Omar Kent Dykes cruised On the Jimmy Reed Highway in 2007, he stopped at many juke joints. Chicago is his departure point this trip, with Jimmie Vaughan riding shotgun by reprising his role of Eddie Taylor to Dykes' Reed and a full cast of hitchhikers, including Lou Ann Barton, Gary Clark Jr., Lazy Lester, and James Cotton, plus a trunk full of big-city rhythms and postwar country blues. Dykes hasn't foresworn his swampy Howlers' growl; he's just let the mud dry for gritty rolls in Ivory Joe Hunter's "Since I Met You Baby," Lightnin' Slim's "Hello Mary Lee," Slim Harpo's "King Bee," and Taylor's title track. Besides embodying a keeper of the flame, Dykes deserves credit for keeping Barton busy when Vaughan's not touring. The locals' belly-rubbing duets on Reed's "Close Together" and Jimmy McCracklin's "Think" make you wonder why the first lady of Texas blues isn't recording with these gentlemen backing her.