Simmered and Stewed
Vizztone Label Group/ Crustee Tees Records
When talking about his last album Tas Cru states “after five albums everything fell into place, the songwriting, the performance, and the production.” That album 2015’s “You Keep The Money” was one of the hottest albums of the year.
At the International Blues Challenge in 2014 Cru won a Keeping The Blues Alive Award in education. “For over 20 years, Tas Cru has been developing and conducting activities ranging from teaching about the blues and its history to teaching people how to play and enjoy the blues. In that time, Cru and his various programs have reached over 18,000 students in 12 states. His model is simple: before he embarks on a program, he works with individual teachers to better assess the needs of their students as he tailors his presentation. Thus his unique approach can fit into almost any school curriculum from Language Arts to Social Studies to Music. He has also funded the production of his children’s CD, Even Bugs Sing the Blues”. Cru donates copies of this album to schools, community groups, and blues societies. Although recorded in 2009 this album just became available through commercial sources like Amazon. A follow-up children’s album “Doggone Blues” was also recently released.
For us fully grown this new album features Cru in a variety of formats. It is basically a collection of songs from his older now out of print albums some of which have been reworked or as Cru likes to say “Simmered and Stewed”. These are fuller arrangements with new backing vocals from Mary Ann Casale and Alice “Honeybea” Ericksen. Additional percussion is also added by Ron Keck.
“Biscuit” is the title track from Cru’s 2006 debut recording. Dick Earl Ericksen is featured on harp while Sonny Rock is on drums. Cru sings about the great Robert Lockwood Jr. and his friend Sonny Payne. Payne was a disc jockey who was the host of the King Biscuit Time radio show out of Helena, Arkansas. As usual Cru was way ahead of his time as Payne was inducted into The Blues Foundation’s Hall of Fame in 2010.
“Feel I’m Falling” and “Cover My Love” are from Cru’s 2008 “gravi- Tas” album. Vocalist Cru plays resonator guitar and is accompanied by Chris Lamson, keyboards; and his band The Slow Happy Boys which included Jeremy Walz, guitar; Chris Wroblewski, bass; and Josh Bloomfield, drums.
From Cru’s third album “Grizzle & Bone” is the title track featuring Lamson on piano; the infectious “Woman Won’t You Love Me” featuring Dick Earl Ericksen on harmonica; and a fabulous cover of the Gary Jackson/Carl Smith song “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher” which was first recorded by Jackie Wilson in 1967 and a single for him by 1969. On Cru’s version he plays evocative guitar and gives a fabulous vocal performance. These once again feature The Slow Happy Boys.
On 2010’s “Jus’ Deserts” Cru gave us “Dat Maybe” featuring Lamson on organ; “Just Let It Happen” on which his doctor tells him “you worry too much you gotta just let things be”; and “Time and Time” which is another fabulous vocal from Cru and my favorite song on this fine album; Cru’s guitar solo is equally stunning. “Tired of Bluesmen Cryin” is from Cru’s 2012 album of the same name which also included “Road to My Obsession”.
If it’s Cru’s obsession to perfect his songs then we are the benefactors. In Memphis, The Rum Boogie Café is Beale Street’s premier music venue. The front cover and inside photo is of the kitchen where Cru “Simmered and Stewed” these new saucy versions. One thing is for sure; Cru can cook.