Connor Ray Music
Houston-based harmonica ace and bandleader Steve Krase moves outside the conventional blues boundaries on this outing, into Americana and Zydeco with guests skilled in those styles. Driving much of these proceedings is noted Houston producer Rock Romano who played bass, background vocals, wrote three of the tunes, and used his favorite spot, The Red Shack, for the recording.
Although the album begins with Hank Williams’ “Settin’ the Woods on Fire” there are plenty of vintage blues selections, among them two relatively obscure tunes from Howlin’ Wolf (“Alll in the Mood” and “My Baby Walked Off”) and one from Big Walter Price (“Nobody Loves Me”). Perhaps the most startling tune here is their zydeco version of the Beverly Hillbillies TV theme, “The Ballad of Jed Clampett.” Brian Jack adds accordion, Mike V the rubboard and James Gilmer percussion. So, in one way it might be surprising for Krase to take on this style, but it is one of the core brands of music being played in Houston today, especially since the migration from so many Louisianans after Katrina.
Krase claims that he tried to keep it simple but wanted more of an edge to the music. Perhaps the guest percussionist Gilmer (from Lyle Lovett’s band) said it best, “I love this project! It’s like Magic Dick and Peter Wolf meet Howlin’ Wolf and Little Walter.”
As you may know, Krase has been instrumental in sustaining Houston’s Queen of the Blues, Trudy Lynn’s career. Having recently seen Trudy’s show, with Krase and his band, it’s fair to say that Krase is a world class harmonica player, vastly unheralded. Krase can stand on the same stage with Kim Wilson and others who carry much bigger reputations. Paired with a pro like Romano, this is a nice example of how blues can be expanded into a swinging, fun excursion while retaining every bit of its power.
- Jim Hynes