Having previously stepped out from in front of Omar & The Howlers, in 2007 Omar Kent Dykes issued a Jimmy Reed tribute CD that proved to be one of the most well-received blues slabs of the year. He paired with Jimmie Vaughn, Stevie Ray's bro, and a klatsch of notables, including Lou Ann Barton, and they all did ol' Jimmy proud, appearing again here along with James Cotton, Ronnie James, and others. Mr. Dykes has a knack for attracting serious musicians, and this CD shows why.
Picking a double handful of classics from John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed, Ivory Joe Hunter, and others, Big Omar fronts the ensemble with his smokily gritty voice while Vaughn and Derek O'Brien strip down to unadorned pure-dee amplified but undistorted old school guitars and back alley blues. Their love of the past is abundantly evident, all the more so when James Cotton blows his harp on four cuts. Lou Ann duets on Think and Close Together in her own inimitable and sassy way, giving a gin joint coloration.
The stars, though, are clearly Dykes and Vaughn, who form a pair playing off one another while tipping an eye to history, trudging in the dust and heat, chronicling lamentations and dreams, growling out the way of the world. Cotton, however, matches the boys every step of the way; not for nothing is he a legend. Omar may indeed be a three decade vet but this release shows he's far from any damned end of the line; Big Town Playboy is tough, strong, gravelly, and so blue it's indigo.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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