Steve Freund is one of the most consistently creative guitarists playing blues today. His crisp, cleanly executed solos are marvels of invention, filled with surprise yet firmly within traditions established by such giants as Hubert Sumlin and Albert, B.B., and Freddie King. Noted for his extensive credits as a sideman for the likes of Koko Taylor and James Cotton, the New York–born musician has concentrated on a solo career since relocating to the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area from Chicago in the mid-’90s. He also has evolved into a commanding, quite soulful vocalist.
His fifth solo album—and second for San Francisco harmonica blower Scot Brenton’s 9 Below label—is made up mostly of tunes by other artists, rather than his own songs, which had been the focus of his earlier CDs. He does open the current set with an original blues composition titled Worried About That Gal but then moves into a program of great tunes by others that are too seldom performed these days. They include Junior Wells’ Come On in This House, Detroit Jr.’s Call My Job, Janis Joplin’s Turtle Blues, Roosevelt Sykes’s Dangerous Man, Freddie King’s Play It Cool, Eddie Vinson’s Cleanhead Blues, and St. Louis Jimmy’s Evil Ways. The set deviates from the urban blues format with a delightfully old-timey treatment of the traditional Easy Rider, on which mandolinist Dave Earl and trombonist Mike Rinta help give the song an early New Orleans flavor, and with the Delmore Brothers’ Blues Stay Away from Me, one of two duets with the powerful vocalist Jan Fanucchi.
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Who says the good old days of the blues are over? “This music isn’t long gone; it’s alive and happening right here and now in Northern California! ” says blues guitar virtuoso Kid Andersen. He’s talking about Tip of the Top, the San Francisco Bay Area band that has taken the blues scene by storm since 2009.
The band’s musical style is reminiscent of the 1950’s. Their live show delivers all the primitive pulsating rhythms, repetitive chord changes and gritty amplification that defines early American Rock ‘n’ Roll. But these bluesmen are no mere imitators. They feel this music to their core. They represent it with 100% authentic personal expression and deliver it with emotionally charged energy.
From Memphis to Greaseland is now available HERE! Recorded and produced at Kid Andersen’s world famous Greaseland Studios in Campbell CA, Tip of the Top’s third album features smokin’ hot originals, spontaneous takes on some blues classics and an all-star guest lineup featuring Johnny “Cat” Soubrand, Sid Morris and Chris “Kid” Andersen himself.