Back in the days before satellite radios and the compact disc, I used to make long night trips from New Orleans to Houston to be ready for a morning business meeting. I loved to spin the radio dial listening for the crisp sound of one of those 50,000 watt clear channel AM radio stations out of Little Rock, Memphis, and even distant Chicago layin’ down the blues. And after listening to the new Duke Robillard Band recording, it is though I found the sweet radio spot once again on one of those road trips where for 18 bluzin’ songs I am catapulted back to the days when jump style rhythm and blues reigned supreme. Great vocals, infectious beats, tasty piano, blazin’ guitars, and brash horns were the signature of those tunes then……and they are now on They Called It Rhythm & Blues.

To produce great rhythm & blues requires an incredible mixture of talents and they are all available on this fantastic recording. Duke Robillard is in fine form on the guitar and vocals for 4 of the tunes. He is joined by regular band mates Mark Teixeira (drums), Bruce Bears (piano, organ), Marty Ballou (bass), Doug James (saxophone), and Chris Cote (vocals). And guest appearances by John P. Hammond (2 songs), Kim Wilson (2 songs), Sue Foley, Michelle Willson (2 songs), Mike Flanigan, Mark Early, Sugar Ray Norcia (2 songs), Doug Woolverton, Matt McCabe, and Anita Suhanin are the perfect compliments to the Duke Robillard sound.

Given my proclivity for upbeat tunes it should come as no surprise that my favorite tune on the new recording is Tell Me Why with Kim Wilson on vocals. Kim hasn’t lost a thing since his days with the Fabulous Thunderbirds and if this tune doesn’t make ya move a bit as you listen, you need to check your pulse and make sure you are still livin’ !!! An exceptional song on the album is No Good Lover with the Duke and Sue Foley on vocals and includes a stellar performance on the drums by Mark Teixeira. Mark is a percussion machine for all 3 minutes and 38 seconds of the tune…..simply badass!! I also loved Here I’m Is and Fools Are Getting Scarcer with Chris Cote on vocals, Rambler Blues sung by Sugar Ray Norcia, and both the songs performed with John Hammond on vocals and guitar, Homeless Blues and No Place To Go. And Michelle Willson has the perfect voice for Champagne Mind and Trouble in Mind.

Listening to this album while I wrote this review was a joy. I invite you to buy this superb recording when it goes on sale on March 18th and be transported back for 67 minutes to the days when they called it the rhythm & blues…….it was a great sound then….and still is now!!

The Duke Robillard Band – They Called It Rhythm & Blues (2022 – Stony Plain Records)

#blues #roadhouseblues #bluesrock

Ben Vee started out spinning songs on terrestrial radio and at nightclubs back in the 1970’s in his home state of Louisiana. After a career in the construction business, he returned to DJing in 2011. He now hosts two shows each week on and writes about the blues at from his home in Connecticut. He also has a personal 24 hour stream devoted to the Roadhouse Blues… WRHB

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