My formative FM radio years were 1978-1983, and during those years bracketing high school I spent most of my time tuned to K97 out of Edmonton, as station that—in those days—had a seemingly liberal approach to the music they played. There was plenty that would become defined as classic rock, but there appeared to always be a little room for things that were more bluesy, especially if it satisfied CanCon requirements. So, between the endless plays of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Moody Blues, there was usually some Powder Blues, Downchild, Pat Travers Band, or David Wilcox.
All of which is a long way to say that It’s Time from the Steve Kozak Band—had it been released thirty-plus years ago—might have found itself getting mainstream radio play. Produced by Matthew Rogers (The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer), Kozak delivers a compelling guitar-based blues album that blends distinctive original material with covers of songs from Jody Williams (“You May”), Henry Glover and Julius Dixon (“Love, Life and Money”), and Magic Sam (“Every Night and Every Day.”) Brook Benton’s “Kiddio” is stretched out just enough, allowing it to fill the room with no little magic, and Jerry Cook’s saxophone is especially appreciated. Kozak’s originals do not pale beside these classic tracks. The lead track “Cane Sugar Sweet” is instantly appealing, “Trouble” digs deep, and “Stranger In My Hometown” has a gentle melancholy made all the sweeter by Dave Webb’s Hammond organ.
The Steve Kozak Band is building up steam and are nominated for a Break Out West award as Blues Artist of the Year. It’s Time would suggest that their time is now.