VICTOR WAINWRIGHT AND THE TRAIN
2020 Blues Music Award winner for Instrumentalist Piano and Grammy-nominated keyboard player/songwriter/singer VICTOR WAINWRIGHT AND THE TRAIN’s MEMPHIS LOUD releases MAY 22, 2020 on Ruf Records. From the opening tap on the keys to the last lingering hum of the Hammond B3, Memphis Loud hits you like a train. A train on track. That’s exactly the point isn’t it. Trains evoke nostalgia, a fondness for what was before. Trains evoke traveling, a gateway to someplace down the line. Trains evoke power and ingenuity. Memphis Loud wasn’t written with the pandemic in mind, it actually got caught up on the tracks just like we all did, but like all great songs, the songs that make up Memphis Loud are timeless and timely at once. One pass through will get you over the hump, but you’ll want to add this to your collection. Memphis Loud will transcend.
As a GRAMMY-nominated kingpin of American roots music, 7 Time Blues Music Award winner – including Band of the Year & B.B. King Entertainer and as the 2020 Blues Music Award winner for Instrumentalist Piano, Victor Wainwright’s keyboards drive every track of Memphis Loud. The songs are purposeful and well orchestrated. Every note has a part to play and the empty spaces are poignant. Victor Wainwright is a creator of original music that is ageless. His grandfather was his music mentor who introduced Victor to all forms of music. He is equally at home in Americana, Jam, Soul, Funk, Blues, Jazz and even Psyche- delia genres. The common thread is that Victor Wainwright weaves these genres into something modern, fun, unique, emotional and powerful.
Memphis Loud opens with “Mississippi”, a forward driving brass and steel charging over the keys like a train on a mission. Hold on! You’re in for an adventure. “Walk The Walk” follows and alludes to Memphis Loud being an adventure for the soul, but it is the third song, the title song, “Memphis Loud” that will carry you on from there. If the album is a train, this is the engine. “Sing” is the slow train into the New Orleans night. Rest easy, with lyrics like, “Sister, I’ll lend you a hand. And Brother, understand. Singing a song makes your life more grand”, you’re in good hands. Evoking the great “Isn’t It A Pity”, by George Harrison, “Disappear” provides the perfect escape. You’ll get lost in the guitar solo only to be lifted back on track by victorious piano and percussion. Good lord willing and the “Creek Don’t Rise”, reminds us that we’ve made it this far together. If we don’t give up we’ll make it through. The funky “Golden Rule” are words to live by. “America” doesn’t preach. It is more a pleading conversation about the risk of falling apart with the lyrics “Left or right, a path we must choose. We shouldn’t wager, more than we can lose.” The humorous reflections on being down on your luck in “South End Of A Northbound Mule” has a certain Levon Helm lightness to it. Brass and keyboards drive “Recovery”. There are a few shining solos in this song, and the unbelievable saxophone solo at the end is worth the train fare. Every grand adventure is better with your best friend. “My Dog Riley” serves that purpose, (“I never ever had a friend so fine,” goes the lyric, even if the hound is often caught “drinkin’ out of the toilet, and pickin’ through the trash”). “Reconcile” pleads, “I will be fine, it will take time, please ease your mind “ as the train slows to a stop. It’s reflective, and heart pounding, you’ll want more. You’ll hit replay. It will burn into your heart.
Featuring 12 songs, all written/co-written by Wainwright, MEMPHIS LOUD was co-produced by Victor Wainwright and Dave Gross and recorded at Music+Arts Studio in Memphis, TN. Joining Wainwright (vocals, piano, Hammond B3, electric piano) in the studio are THE TRAIN: Billy Dean (drums, percussion, vocals), Terrence Grayson (bass, vocals), Pat Harrington (guitar, vocals), Mark Earley (baritone sax, tenor sax & clarinet), Doug Woolverton (trumpet & flugelhorn) and Dave Gross (guitar, vocals, percussion). Special guests on Memphis Loud include former ‘Train’ Greg Gumpel (guitar/vocals), Reba Russell & Gracie Curran (vocals), Monster Mike Welch (guitar).
Victor Wainwright makes this statement, it sums up Memphis Loud perfectly. “My Grandfather taught me that no brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him. So I’m chuggin’ forward, making sure we give everyone the opportunity to travel, and as we traverse the beautiful winding path of all that roots music has to offer, we arrive fully at the same destination, happily, and all together!”. There’s not much more to add to this than, buy this album. You don’t realize yet how much you need these songs. See you out on the rails.
- Viola Krouse