Kenny Wayne hails from an elder blues tradition, the one that counted Professor Longhair, Otis Spann, and others in its circle. The big gent plays a riotously copacetic set of barrelhouse/boogie keys that infuses many Old South traditions in a result that, as the title implies, rocks like crazy. In such wellsprings can be see the Little Richards, the Jerry Lee Lewises, and a plethora of the more well known practitioners from the day. Perfectly in line, then, that Duke Robillard would produce An Old Rock on a Roll on Stony Plain along with a solid back-up duo (Brad Halle on bass and Mark Texeira on drums) and a Blues Brothersy horn section. Get ready to put on your dancing shoes, y'all, 'cause this is one infectious do.
Even the balladically paced numbers like Heaven, Send Me an Angel can't keep their fires suppressed, and in fact show quite clearly where cats like Kim Simmmonds got their influences in four-step silent stomps that get up in one's grill and won't back down. Don't Pretend and Bring Back the Love are the closest this sly ivory tickler comes to a slow-mo, the latter particularly—and, okay, I'll admit it's a true ballad—but Wayne's vigor is irrepressible. And Wild Turkey, the title being the giveaway, is a day-after oh-my-oh-me cautionary to avoid that 80-proof bird, the source of so much joy and woe. More, every one of these full-bodied cuts is written by Wayne alone, and the cat knows how to pack a stave with jumpin' righteousness.
The liner notes don't credit it, so I exercised my Mysterious Exalted Crit Prerogative and discovered that it's Wayne playing that killer organ I hear as well. On Give Thanks, he's lit up like a skyscraper on fire, tracked in beside the piano, and, man o man, you have to hear it to believe it. The axe ain't everywhere, thank goodness, 'cause much more and they'd have to scrape me off the sidewalk with a spatula. It ain't that the guy's climbing into Jan Hammer territory but that the addition of the esteemed swirly electronic sound just fills everything up with energy and spirit, bouncing all over the place, reflecting not the dreary white Puritan ethos, but a lively black Sunday joy of life and faith down at the corner church with the rest of the neighborhood. Kenny Wayne may indeed be a blues boss, but he's also got that swing that means everything.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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