Nick Moss Band – Time Ain’t Free (Blue Bella Records 2014)

I was fortunate to catch Nick Moss & his band recently doing a gig outside of Houston. Obviously tired from twenty six hours on the road direct from Chicago, he got on stage and just let it rip with tunes from his new album “Time Ain’t Free”. He shed the highway weariness in a hurry and his face lit up as the band launched into a Chicago funk instrumental, “(Big Mike’s) Sweet Potato Pie” to start the show. Nick is a big man and he bear hugged his guitar and just torched the frets as his tight band laid down an energetic groove. It was an impressive start to an entertaining evening.

“Time Ain’t Free” is the tenth album for Nick on his own label, Blue Bella Records, and seems destined to land him even more blues artist and music nominations (he already has 16!) It also marks a return to his Chicago roots via Macon Georgia! Nick’s last two albums were blues rock oriented and a marked departure from the Chicago blues style and sound that brought him notice on his first two albums in 1999 (First Offense) and 2001 (Got a New Plan). On the new album, we get a delicious mix of Chicago blues, urban funk, and that Southern sound that emanated from Macon in the seventies. It is a magical stew of the modern blues cooked Nick Moss style.

“Was I Ever Heard” is a southern blues rockin’ tune about life on the road and the night after night grind that all bands endure trying to make an impression and light a spark of enduring remembrance in sometimes fickle audiences. All I can say is that the guitar solos on this cut are for the ages and in league with the best of Dickey Betts, Duane Allman, and Warren Haynes. The cover of the Son House song, “Death Letter Blues”, is in the same vein as is the title cut, “Time Ain’t Free” and “No Reason”….sweet southern rockin’ blues.

The album also has a number of cuts featuring the remarkable voice of band member and Chicago native Mike Ledbetter. He has a soul inspired sound combined with a magnetic personality and a pair of movin’ hips that had the ladies in attendance smiling and swaying. (In fact, that is my only nitpick of the album after seeing the live performance, the CD just doesn’t do justice to the power of Mike’s vocals.) I particularly enjoyed the tune, “Fare the Well”, that showcased the clarity of his voice set to a Chicago urban funky blues beat.

The Nick Moss Band is doing a slew of concert dates in the United States through late June. In August 2014, he will head to Germany for shows in Bremen, Forst, and Hamburg. Check your local concert listings and make a date with the Nick Moss band. The time you spend listening to them live won’t be free but well worth the price of admission.

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