Gonzalo Bergara

Zalo’s Blues

self-released

bergaraAfter six Gypsy jazz albums, Gonzalo Bergara returns to his blues-rock roots with all the zeal one would expect from someone who caught the late, great Dan Hicks’ attention.

When Bergara served as guitarist on Hicks’ 2004 release, “Selected Shorts,” the Argentinian was relatively unknown to the American public. The following year he began extensive touring as rhythm guitarist in John Jorgenson’s Gypsy jazz quintet, a gig that would last through 2008. After that he began recording a string of releases under his own name or as the Gonzalo Bergara Quartet.

Bergara told Good New Music via email how he met Hicks:

“A friend of my roommate was at the time using his studio for a project with Dan Hicks. The producer was Tim Hauser from Manhattan Transfer. This friend had heard through my roommate that I also could play not only blues but Gypsy jazz as well, and everybody at that time was not happy with the guitar player they had in the studio.

“So one day the studio owner dialed my number and had me play (Gus Kahn’s 1924 classic) ‘I’ll See You in My Dreams’ through the phone. Sounds crazy, but that’s how it went. I guess (Hicks) liked it OK, because the next day I was in the studio redoing all of the guitar parts. … He was a very special man; I loved working with him.”

Although his roots are in blues, unbelievably this is Bergara’s first blues recording.

“My first gigs as a musician were at the age of 16,” he told GNM in explaining his blues beginnings. “I first joined a group when I was 12, and after four years and lots of practice, we started sounding pretty good. We were invited to national television, and played  shows weekly in Buenos Aires and Argentina.

“I have always loved the format of a trio,” he said, “the freedom and space it gives me. Mariano (D’Andrea) and my brother Maximiliano (who both play on ‘Zalo’s Blues’) joined me when I was 16, and we did lots of things together, but I also played with other trios in town when I needed to.”

“Zalo’s Blues” is roughly half vocal numbers, half instrumental. The vocal tunes — Bergara’s first on record — are as good as any upper-echelon blues-rocker’s, and his singing voice carries not even a trace of an accent.

The instrumental cuts range in influence from Charlie Christian to T-Bone Walker to Stevie Ray Vaughan to the Hellecasters, and draw attention to the fact that this platter is nothing if not a tone fest.

Perhaps he was waiting until he felt his singing/songwriting skills were fully developed before “going electric,” but if Bergara’s first crack at it is this good, the listener’s imagination runs wild thinking about what lies ahead.gnm_end_bug

Tracks
1. Drawback
2. Drinking
3. Singing My Song
4. You Don’t Have To Go (Jimmy Reed)
5. Dirty Socks
6. Gonna Go
7. No More
8. Woosh
9. Been Runnin’
10. Levi
11. Ines
12. Won`t Stay With You

Total time: 37:30

External links
artist’s website
CD Baby
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Elvin Bishop

Red Dog Speaks

Delta Groove

bishop2Bishop has excelled at his craft through many phases, from Bay Area blues rock to southern rock to just plain blues.

But his post-Capricorn Records efforts with Alligator and Blind Pig were spotty, as if he were searching for a new identity. With “Red Dog Speaks,” Delta Groove has helped him find one after just two CDs, delivering on the promise of 2008’s “The Blues Rolls On.”

“Red” rightly returns to emphasizing his main strength: slide guitar. It expands on the previous release’s enlistment of heavyweights, with Tommy Castro, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Roy Gaines, Buckwheat Zydeco, John Nemeth and Kid Anderson in featured sidemen roles.

The best pure-slide cuts are aren’t always instrumental, as “Many Rivers to Cross,” with Nemeth on lead vocals, proves. But “Doo-Wop Medley” (consisting of “In the Still of the Night” and “Maybe”) and “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” join a long line of slide-showcasing instrumentals by Bishop, including “Last Mile,” “Stomp,” “Devil’s Slide,” “Mellow D,” “Sweet Dreams” and “Honest I Do.”

Nemeth also supplies vocals on “Neighbor Neighbor” (written by the Crazy Cajun, Huey P. Meaux) and Otis Spann’s “Get Your Hand Out of My Pocket.” Bishop, often shortchanged when it comes to recognition as an above-average singer, provides slightly hoarse yet heartfelt performances on such numbers as Leroy Carr’s “Midnight Hour Blues” and originals “Fat & Sassy” and the live “Blues Cruise.”

“Clean Livin’ ” and the title song continue his specialty in talking blues, offering advice from a senior party animal’s perspective and relating the history of the 1959 Gibson ES-345 he calls Red Dog.gnm_end_bug

Tracks
1. Red Dog Speaks
2. Neighbor Neighbor
3. Fat & Sassy
4. Barbecue Boogie
5. Many Rivers To Cross
6. Blues Cruise
7. Doo-Wop Medley
8. Get Your Hand Out Of My Pocket
9. His Eye Is On The Sparrow
10. Clean Livin’
11. Midnight Hour Blues

Total time: 39:49

External links
artist’s website
amazon.com
iTunes Store

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