The Bigtone Sessions Vol. 1
Darrell Nulisch, vocals and harmonica was the original singer with Anson Funderburgh and The Rockets and first recorded with them on 1979’s “Live At Cactus Jacks”; Nulisch stayed with Funderburgh through 1985. From 1986 until 1989 Nulisch was a member of Mike Morgan and The Crawl. Nulisch however came to national prominence as the lead vocalist with Ronnie Earl and The Broadcasters and sang on their acclaimed albums 1989’s “Soul Searchin’”, and 1990’s “Piece of Mind”. In 1991 Nulisch formed his own band Texas Heat with his songwriting partner/bassist Steve Gomes. After recording two albums with Texas Heat, Nulisch signed with Severn Records in 1997 and released five studio recordings the last being 2009’s “Just For You”. Nulisch is a four time Blues Music Award nominee in the categories of Traditional Blues and Soul Blues.
The ailing harp master James Cotton had lost his voice but continued to tour. He asked the emotive Nulisch to be his vocalist sometime around 2012. Nulisch appears on Cotton’s 2014 “Cotton Mouth Man” on Alligator Records and sings on six tracks. In 2015 Nulisch was captured live in a set called “One Night in Boston” with Monster Mike Welch on guitar.
This is Nulisch’s first studio recording in ten years. The album is produced and recorded at Bigtone Records Studio by “Big” Jon Atkinson. The band includes Nulisch, vocals and harmonica; Atkinson, lead guitar and harmonica; Danny Michel and Scot Smart, guitar; Bob Welsh, keyboards; Troy Sandow, bass; and either Ronnie Smith or Marty Dodson, drums. Nulisch still possesses a beautiful voice and we get to hear him again on this collection of specially selected covers.
Atkinson’s guitar opens “Just Got To Know” written and originally recorded by Jimmy McCracklin in 1961 for Art-Tone Records. “I Can’t Judge Nobody” is from Otis “Smokey” Smothers released on Federal Records also in 1961; Nulisch gets that high reedy sound on his harp, while Welsh’s piano dances about.
“Person To Person” written by songwriter Charlie Fowler Singleton, Jr. and tenor saxophonist Teddy McRae, was first recorded by Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson in 1952; it was also recorded by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Little Willie John, Elmore James, T-Bone Walker, and Son Seals. The rhythm section of Sandow and Dodson lay the foundation for Atkinson’s lead guitar and harmonica. “I need you person to person, bring your little fine self home”.
“Bloodstains On The Wall” written by Frank “Honeyboy” Patt was first recorded by him in 1953, “Sheets and pillows torn to pieces bloodstains all over the wall”. “Stop Crying” from Rice Miller a.k.a. Sonny Boy Williamson II was recorded in 1965. Atkinson’s leads are remarkable and combine perfectly with Nulisch’s vocals. “Fools Way”, “take advice from this old fool ‘cause this old fool have lived that life”, featured is Scot Smart on guitar.
“Hoodoo Party” from Ernest Joseph “Tabby” Thomas was recorded in 1972; Nulisch is on harp with the rhythm section of Sandow and Smith. “Lonely Nights” is from Earl Silas Johnson better known as Earl King and was recorded in 1955 as “Those Lonely, Lonely Nights”; Danny Michel is the featured guitarist.
“Hello Stranger” was written and recorded by Baby Boy Warren in 1953; Atkinson plays lead and Smart rhythm. “Pocket Full of Money” was originally written and recorded by Frank Frost in 1967; Atkinson is on harp and Michel on lead. “Sad Lonesome Day” from Sam Myers was first recorded in 1960; featured are Atkinson on guitar and Welsh on piano. “Last Time” written by James A. Lane a.k.a. Jimmy Rogers first appeared on his 1970 album “Chicago Bound”; Nulisch’s vocal is paired again with Atkinson’s guitar.
“Trouble No More” credited to Big Maceo Merrieather is also known as “Worried Life Blues” and was recorded by Muddy Waters in 1955; there are several different versions of this song but they all trace back to Sleepy John Estes 1935 “Someday Baby Blues”. “Someday baby you ain’t gonna’ worry my life anymore”. Atkinson’s guitar playing is never excessive and always in support of the song.
“If You Ever Need Somebody”, “darling please don’t be ashamed, all you have to do is call me and I will answer to my name, if you ever feel lonely, and if you ever feel blue, all you have to do is call me, and I’ll come running back to you”. Nulisch’s expressive vocal and closing narrative are perfect.
This is Nulisch’s best traditional blues recording. Atkinson’s production utilizes vintage equipment and techniques. The band consists of knowledgeable players with a deep understanding of the feelings in each of the song’s lyrics. This is the traditional blues album of the year.