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Living With the Blues

Duke Robillard

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Album Review

Best known as the founder of Roomful of Blues and for his short stint with the Fabulous Thunderbirds (replacing Jimmie Vaughan), Duke Robillard had only released two blues albums between 1996 and 2002. Although he was awarded the W.C. Handy Best Blues Guitarist award for 2000 and 2001 and his tireless road work always included plenty of stinging solos, Robillard left the jazz and worldbeat tangents behind for this welcome return to his first love. Those who have followed Robillard's career know that he's never been tied to one style, and Living With the Blues highlights his eclectic talents. Robillard crackles on everything here, from the straight-ahead Chicago approach of Willie Dixon by way of Muddy Waters' "I Live the Life I Love" to the Roomful-styled hard swing of the obscure Willie Egans' "I'm Mad About You Baby" to the acoustic treatment of Tampa Red's "Hard Road" and the jump blues of his own "Sleepin' on It" (reprised from the Roomful years). He turns the Brownie McGhee title track into a tough Chicago shuffle, featuring the rollicking tenor sax of old Roomful alumnus Doug James, and closes with a bluesy rhumba-styled version of B.B. King's "Long Gone Baby." He also adds tough spunk to Little Milton's "If Walls Could Talk," throwing in one of the disc's greasiest solos along the way. Through it all, Robillard is obviously having a blast, whipping out tight guitar solos with white-hot precision and snazzy arrangements that never overwhelm the band or the song. The horns that dominate the album return Robillard to the Roomful sound that he clearly loves and, even though his gruff vocals are still an acquired taste, his singing is filled with such enthusiasm that you can forgive its technical shortcomings. There's a real sense of joy that infuses every track here, making it perfect for established Duke Robillard fans or newcomers who want to get a taste of the man's substantial talents.

Biography

Born: 04 October 1948 in Woonsocket, RI

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Duke Robillard is one of the founding members of Roomful of Blues, as well as one of the guitarists who replaced Jimmie Vaughan in the Fabulous Thunderbirds in 1990. Between that time, Robillard pursued a solo career that found him exploring more musically adventurous territory than either Roomful of Blues or the T-Birds. On his solo recordings, the guitarist dips into blues, rockabilly, jazz, and rock & roll, creating a unique fusion of American roots musics. In 1967, Duke Robillard formed...
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Living With the Blues, Duke Robillard
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