David Vest and Robert Plant reviews

Has it been two weeks already? Work has been so busy I’ve pushed Fervor Coulee toward the backburner. I’ll try to find some extra time to review a few projects that have piled up, but in all honesty not that much has been coming my way lately. In today’s Red Deer Advocate  I review two recent releases by David Vest and Robert Plant.

I take back all youthful and disparaging words spoken about Plant and his caterwauling with Led Zeppelin.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee.

Roots music column, originally published October 15, 2010 in the Red Deer Advocate

David Vest Rock a While Criminal Records

With Alabama roots deeper than a southern swamp, David Vest has been playing the blues and its associated sounds for almost as long as rock and roll has been around.

Billed the Boogie Woogie Starchild, Vest’s piano-based blues are sure to keep toes a-tappin’ and heads a-bobbin’. While a few tracks slide comfortably into jazz territory- check out the brief interlude “Monklife in Vermont” for a sample of such- most of the tunes on this impressive release explore the rockin’ and reelin’ sides of the blues.

Boogie woogie is indeed well-represented throughout the album’s 53 minutes. Several interesting instrumentals are included of which “Magic City Shuffle”, inspired by the furtive, after hours jams Vest participated in while developing his chops in racially-segregated Birmingham, stands out.

Now based on the west coast, Vest’s music reminds one of the spirited music produced by Paul Reddick. With its origins in the past, Vest and his musicians are living in the present and produce lively tunes that keep the house jumping. They can enliven an old John Lee Hooker number like “Whiskey and Women”, making it sound all their own and they can give a fresh song like “Little Big-Eyes” an old-school New Orleans groove that is timeless.

Vest tosses props Fats Domino’s way with a stellar take of “Natural Born Lover” that slides into “Every Night About this Time” and playfully works some of Bill Monroe’s “Rocky Road Blues” into Gene Vincent’s “I Got a Baby.”

Not normally my thing, Rock a While provides ample proof that David Vest is the real deal.

David Vest’s All Star Blues Band plays a Hallowe’en Dance and Costume Party at The Elks Lodge October 29.

Robert Plant Band of Joy Rounder

Even with a band centered about the twin forces that are Buddy Miller and Darrell Scott, one may not have anticipated that Robert Plant’s second foray into the roots-country-Americana field would be as entirely successful as Band of Joy most obviously is.

As on his previous, award-winning collaboration with Alison Krauss, Plant surrounds himself with the finest talent and songs that money, influence, and friendship can solicit. This time out Bekka Bramlett and Patty Griffin serve as Plant’s female foils.

Vibrant and full, the instrumentation on this album swirls into dirges that are almost trance- inducing. Reworking songs from key writers- Los Lobos, Richard Thompson, Townes Van Zandt- as well some less familiar and those whose names are lost within traditions, Plant and album co-producer Miller have created a sonically challenging and sturdy interpretation of modern roots music.

“Cindy, I’ll Marry You Someday” and “Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down”, while familiar to all who embrace traditional folk music, have never likely sounded quite like they do here. Plant gives “Cindy” an erotic overtone absent on previously heard recordings.

What a joyful thing it is to hear afresh songs long familiar.

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