Two of the founding members of the Vegas Strip Kings were part of the band “Contino” who recorded “Back Porch Dogma” on Blind Pig Records in 2012. That band morphed into the Vegas Strip Kings and they recorded their “(Live)” album in 2015. The live album was mostly covers but it helped to establish the band by getting bookings in the greater Las Vegas area. Now the Vegas Strip Kings have crafted a new studio album by mixing their blues, Americana, and Tex-Mex (or Zydeco) influences. The album is an infectious mixture of originals and selected covers.
The Vegas Strip Kings include former Contino band members Billy Truitt, keyboards, accordion, lead and backing vocals; and Rob Edwards, bass. They are joined by Al Ek, electric, acoustic, and lap steel guitars, harmonica and vocals; Justin Truitt, drums and percussion; and four time Blues Music Award nominee Jimmy Carpenter, sax and lead vocals. The album was produced by Truitt and recorded at Victory House Productions in Las Vegas.
“Rotgut Run” and “It Ain’t”, the first two tracks are reprised from that 2012 album. They were written by the members of “Contino”. Opening with Edwards’ strong bass lines, Ek’s vocal and harmonica remind me of Charlie Musselwhite, while Truitt tinkles the keys. The latter features Ek’s lap steel sounding like a slide guitar, Carpenter’s sax and Truitt’s vocal. One can’t be anything but impressed by the bands virtuosity.
Seven new songs were written by the band. Ek sings on the Tex-Mex “Jesus on The Dash” with Pruitt playing accordion; on “Lately” featuring Carpenter’s sax; and on both “Pawnbroker” and “Sharp as A Razor”. Pruitt takes the lead vocal on “Back To You”, on “Hold On” with some great percussion from Justin Truitt; and on ”Life of Me”.
“Screeching Halt” is a Latin groove with a vocal from Carpenter and a fabulous sax solo. Carpenter’s work with this band is stellar. Carpenter takes another solo on Willie Dixon’s the “Same Thing” sung by EK.
“Take It Easy” and “V8 Ford” are from pianist Willie Love best known for recording with Sonny Boy Williamson II. These are sung by EK.
This is an impressive recording by the Vegas Strip Kings that doesn’t tire with repeated listening and doesn’t ever bring you down. It just continues to make you feel good.