Confessin’ My Dues
Born in Canada, Terry Robb is one of the most heralded acoustic guitarists on the International scene. Moving to the Pacific Northwest, at an early age, his original music draws on Delta blues, ragtime and jazz traditions. His primary influences include Lightning Hopkins, Reverend Gary Davis, and Merle Travis. He collaborated with, and is listed as producer, on seven John Fahey albums including 1983’s “Let Go”. In 1997 he collaborated with Curtis Salgado on the album “Hit It ‘n Quit It” on Lucky Records. He has also produced albums for Alan Hagar, Alice Stuart, Duffy Bishop and others. Robb is a member of The Oregon Music Hall of Fame and The Cascade Blues Association Hall of Fame. He has also recorded for the Varrick, Rounder, Burnside and Yellow Dog Record labels.
This is Robb’s fifteenth solo recording. The core band includes Robb, acoustic and resonator guitar and vocals; Dave Captein, standup bass; and Gary Hobbs, drums. All of the songs were written or co-written by Robb.
The album features Robb playing eight finger-picking guitar instrumentals, and singing on five additional songs. The instrumentals include the opener, “Butch Holler Stomp”, with some dazzling ragtime styled guitar. “Still On 101” another exciting instrumental that references the scenic road a.k.a. the Oregon Coast Highway; and “It Might Get Sweaty” featuring a deep groove, aided by bassist Captein, and some fabulous phrasing by Robb.
“Now Vestapol” is credited to Terry Robb, John Fahey, and Robert Wilkins. Stefan Grossman, states that the “Open D” tuning is, also referred to as, the Vestapol tuning. “A powerful and evocative tuning that was widely used in the 1920’s to play country blues, ballads, rags and folk tunes”. Wilkins passed in 1987 and Fahey, who lived the later part of his life in Oregon, in 2001. This spacious instrumental seems to have been inspired and pieced together by other tunes previously recorded. “Blood Red Moon” is another fine instrumental.
“How A Free Man Feels” is a blues song with a spirituality of its own as it echoes the days of emancipation. “I wish I could know how a free man feels, I would do anything to know how a free man feels, I would brace the darkest night, fight an angry sea, walk a thousand miles, crawl back on my knees”. Other vocal highlights include “Heart Made Of Steel”; “Darkest Road I’m Told” that references Highway 61; the album’s title track “Confessin’ My Dues”; and “Keep Your Judgement”, with the lyric “keep your judgement for another day”, with a fabulous guitar solo from Robb, and rhythm guitar from Adam Scramstad.
This is a thoroughly enjoyable album of originals from the sensational Terry Robb. Richard Ludmerer