Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters
Beyond The Blue Door
Stony Plain Records
Really and Truly Keeping The Blues Alive For a New Generation
While guitarist extraordinaire Ronnie Earl has been treading the boards for several decades now, winning as many accolades as he and his band win Awards; he and they were a brand new discovery for RMHQ back in 2016 with their Luckiest Man album.
So, it was with great delight we received their latest release a few weeks ago; and I’m pleased to say they tread a very similar path with their trademark blend of Yer Blues with the Coolest Jazz you may ever hear.
While the band obviously revolve around Earl and his guitar; opening track Brand New Me finds the wonderful Diane Blue and piano player Dave Limina front and centre, with Earl and the shimmering horn section doing their ‘thing’ in the shadows.
Earl steps forward on the next song though, making his guitar gently weep as Kim Wilson’s harmonica screams and squeals alongside on Howlin’ Wolf’s Baby How Long; and the result is quite outstanding.
Oh man; what would I give to see and hear The Broadcasters play this album from start to finish in downtown club or bar; especially Earl’s own A Soul That’s Been Abused and also Peace of Mind, where Diane sounds uncannily like Etta James the way she purrs her lyrics and Earl and band pour their collective hearts and Souls into making these two songs shimmer and shine.
As expected there are numerous cover songs here; and Ronnie Earl throws curve balls left, right and centre.
Little Walter’s Blues With a Feeling; featuring (starring?) Kim Wilson on harmonica and vocals is as stunning as it’s actually expected in this company; and their rendition of Timmy Thomas’s Why Can’t We Live Together shouldn’t really be a surprise, should it? But reinventing His Bobness’s It Takes a Lot To Laugh into a down and raw Country Blues is mildly mind blowing ……. and well worth seeking out.
There’s so very much to like here, with Drowning in a Sea of Love taking us deep into the cold, cold heart of the Blues, whereas T-Bone Stomp reaffirms the power great music can have on a lost and lonely Soul (mine btw) as does the spectacular Bringing Light to a Dark Time.
Choosing a Favourite Track is never going t be easy on an album of earthly delights such as this; and currently I’m torn between the captivating instrumental Blues For Charlottesville and the stomping The Sweetest Man which finds Diane Blue in startling form as the bandleader takes us on a guitar trip that links BB King, Freddie King and even Chet Atkins but is always unmistakably Ronnie Earl; so I guess I’m going for the latter …… but I may change my mind tomorrow.
Over the years I’ve seen many great Blues and Jazz guitarists in vunes of varying sizes; but very, very few can create such a consistent and awe-inspiring Groove as Ronnie Earl; who also has the good grace to let others take the spotlight while he strums his guitar in the background.
Released August 30th 2019