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Low Down and Tore Up

Duke Robillard

by Duke Robillard Band

Feature Record for the week beginning Mon 10 Oct 2011

America’s most versatile guitarist and his band peel back the years to deliver a gritty tribute to the early heroes of R&B

Looking back, it was one of the most exciting eras of American music. Tiny independent R&B labels put out jukebox singles with infectious riffs, shouted vocals, honking tenor sax solos and dance grooves that electrified black America’s clubs, bars and backyard BBQs.And now Duke Robillard and his powerful band — with their feet hard on the gas pedal— have gone back to the 40s and 50s to resurrect the drive, the songs and the atmosphere of that distant era. But the view in their rear mirror makes the music seem much, much closer than you might think. Low Down and Tore Up is just that, and while it’s Duke’s 18th record for Stony Plain, the internationally-distributed Canadian roots music label, it’s certainly different from the others that preceded it.

Duke sums it up: “Basically, I just wanted to go in the studio and record live and capture the real feeling of the lowdown blues in an off-the-cuff sort of way, the way singles used to be made in the blues world for small labels.“ Robillard’s regular compatriots support both the guitarist and the spirit of the songs: Gord “Sax” Beadle on tenor and baritone saxes, Bruce Bears and Matt McCabe on keyboards, Brad Hallen on bass and Mark Teixeira on drums.Producer Dick Shurman says the new CD is a “rousing and rocking” affirmation of Robillard’s grittier blues roots. “He’s carved out a legacy that puts him on a par with the greats who inspired and informed him,” he adds. The new CD is the latest installment in Duke Robillard’s long and amazingly fruitful relationship with Stony Plain.

Following the success of Grammy-nominated Stomp! The Blues Tonight and his most recent release, Passport to the Blues, Robillard is in powerful form — vocally and instrumentally — on an album that stands out in his catalog for its over-the-top enthusiasm and the “live” quality of the recording.One of the most versatile and accomplished guitarists playing today, Robillard has always been fascinated by the roots of American popular music — and he’s tackled everything from blues to the classic American songbook to jazz guitar duets, rock-influenced trios, small and big band swing recordings. A consistent producer, a session player for the likes of Bob Dylan, Dr. John, John Hammond and dozens more, he logs up to 250 shows a year and has toured as a member of Tom Waits’ band.

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