Gulf Coast Records
Iowan Kevin Burt has been on the Midwest blues scene honing his soulful presentation for some twenty-five years. He is a self-taught guitarist, harmonica player and vocalist, who has shared the stage with B.B. King, Koko Taylor, Albert Collins, Luther Allison, Lonnie Brooks and many others. His festival appearances include the 1996 Smithsonian Institutional Festival of American Folk Life, the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, and the Iowa City Jazz Festival. He was also named Iowa City’s Best Entertainer three times; and in 2009 recognized by the Governor of Iowa as one of the Midwest’s top blues educators. Burt also studied acting and played the role of “Papa Gee” in New York City’s off-Broadway production “Klub Ka, the Blues Legend”, and also arranged the play’s music. Burt won the Iowa Blues Challenge and competed in the 2018 International Blues Challenge winning first place in the solo/duo category; and winning additional awards for Cigar Box Guitar, and Best Harmonica Player. Burt released his debut album “Heartland and Soul” on the Little Village Foundation label and was nominated for a 2019 Blues Music Award as Best Emerging Artist.
This is Burt’s first album for Gulf Coast Records. Produced by Mike Zito, the album was recorded at Zito’s Marz Studio in Nederland, Texas. Burt, guitar, harp and vocals, is backed by a band including Zito, guitars; Lewis Stephens, keyboards; Doug Byrkit, bass; and Matthew Johnson, drums. Special guest Jimmy Carpenter plays saxophone.
Ten of the eleven tracks are Burt originals based on his observations and experiences. Burt dedicates the album to his wife and best friend Nicole and states that she is his muse and inspiration for many of his songs. Burt opens with “I Ain’t Got No Problem With It” featuring his robust vocal and harmonica, and the lyric “I know you gotta’ live your life”. Nicole also inspired “Something Special About You” as Burt sings “that makes me smile and want to get to know you better”.
“Purdy Lil Thing” is a humorous blues rocker featuring some swampy guitar from Zito. “Rain Keeps Coming Down” is a great song with the relentless rhythm section pounding out the beat while Burt plays harmonica. The heartfelt love song “Stone Crazy”, the title track, features Burt’s evocative vocal and some jazzy guitar from Zito. Burt growls as he takes over on lead guitar for the funky “I’m Busting Out”, and again on the soulful “Same Old Thing”,
Grounded by the rhythm section “You Get What You See” features another great vocal from Burt with Carpenter on saxophone. On my favorite, the funky “Should Have Never Left Me Alone”, Burt takes an extended harp solo. The soulful Burt is sometimes compared to Bill Withers and he pays tribute to Withers on a fabulous version of “Better Off Dead”, the B-side to the 1972 mega-hit “Lean On Me”. Burt closes with the poignant “Got To Make A Change” featuring some airy guitar from Zito.
Burt displays his talented range on this album full of highlights. If you haven’t yet heard him check out these fine performances.