Blues fans have long been aware of vocalist and lead guitarist Chris James and Patrick Ryan as th leaders of their own band, the Blue Four, as well as for their stellar work with a dazzling array of blues legends. Gonna Boogie Anyway, their second album for the Earwig label following their Blues Music Award-nominated 2008 set Stop And Think About It, triumphantly marks the latest chapter for the San Diego-based duo, whose high-energy approach remains deeply rooted in traditional electric blues from Chicago to all points south.
Chris’ dazzling guitar work is featured even more prominently than on its acclaimed predecessor, and for the first time on disc, the pair performs four unplugged selections, James’ vocals ringing with extraordinary force over rollicking grooves anchored by Patrick’s rock-steady bass. Original material dominates; the album’s four covers include two Bo Diddley gems (“Little Girl” and “Dearest Darling”). Piano legends Henry Gray and David Maxwell and veteran Chicago drummers Sam Lay and Willie Hayes are all on board, as is their harp-blowing cohort Rob Stone. Chris and Patrick return the favor on Rob’s new Earwig CD, Back Around Here.
Neither Chris nor Patrick can fully explain their ESP-like musical compatibility. “When I started playing with Chris, I didn’t know anything,” ventures Patrick, whose bass influences in addition to Dave Myers include Willie Kent, Ransom Knowling, and Big Crawford (as you might expect after encountering the latter two names, he’s just as conversant on upright bass as on electric). “Because I’ve learned all that stuff, I have the tools and I have the way of playing to make the chemistry between me and Chris just work.”
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