Volker Stifler may be a key element as Robben Ford's sidekick and in the Ford Blues Band, but in Let the Music Rise, he presents a much more eclectic approach to the revered mode, capturing cabaretic, cinematic, funky, shuffle, Jamaican, and God only knows what-all elements in a frequently high spririted ten-spot of cuts that settle into no easily identified mode. Attend his version of Fleetwood Mac's Jigsaw Puzzle Blues (with tuba!), and you'll see what I mean. It opens with a strong tang of Gentle Giant's Spooky Boogie then heads for Randy Newman's Ragtime territory in Dixie fashion before settling into a midnight gin joint for bordello band slink.
Stifler wants to "give the listener a sense of hearing something they won't hear anywhere else", and, in that, he's succeeded. For similar strains, one would have to travel back to John Dummer, the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation, and a sub-set of old English bluescats. Makes a lot of sense, actually: not only did he cover Jigsaw but Peter Green was a prime influence, and any who caught the BBC CD set of the Mac's Vaudeville days ('68—'70) will readily recognize how well this guitarist has picked up where they left off…while infusing a lot more Americana, especially turn of the century New Orleans, into his work.
Stifler's voice also carries a yesteryear classicality, and one would not have been surprised to see him opening for Stan Webb and Chickenshack, Keef Hartley, or Duffy Power back in the era. Yeah, the guy may be a solid denizen of the 21st century, but that ain't where his heart, head, and fingers reside. It's Getting Late really underscores all this as we reel tipsily from pub to tavern to distillery. Some of Rise is even daring, not in its defiance of traditions but in the way it melds several of them in a way you'd never expect to work so well.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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