Friday, March 30, 2007

Jimmy Burns - Live at B.L.U.E.S. DVD (Delmark, 2007)

Guitarist, harmonicist and singer Jimmy Burns takes center stage on this no-frills but none-needed DVD of a hot and sweaty night at the local blues club. Part of the joy of seeing this film was the realization that all of the juke joints of the past haven't yet been swept away and replaced by bland corporate copies. Burns and his compatriots Tony Palmer on guitar, Greg McDaniel on bass and James Carter on drums play the real thing, old-school electric blues that is wonderful in its simplicity and infectious in its beat. Carter and McDaniel make for a great rhythm team, keeling the pocket deep and strong. Burns and Palmer trade lead and rhythm guitar duties like they can read each others minds, and both have space for some excellent soloing. Most of the performances are taken at a medium to up-tempo and highlights include the exciting opener "Leaving Here Walking" and the strong "Can't Hold Out Much Longer" propelled by fine soloing. Burns's friend and fellow bluesman Jesse Forrest is invited on stage to sing an emotionally charged version of the standard "Three O'Clock Blues." The recording quality and camera angles are solid and straightforward, with the focus being kept squarely on the music and wisely so. There are a few shots of the audience and an outdoor barbeque, and people are clearly enjoying themselves. There are a few extras on the disc, a commentary track, preview of an upcoming blues film and discography. David Whiteis contributes a thoughtful liner essay outlining Burns' blues history. Overall, this is a fine and very well done package. The music is presented with sympathy and the performances are excellent. The blues club that presents good solid meat and potatoes music is sliding into memory in much of the Unites States, so it's good that have this fine document to reminds us how deep and strong the blues remains.

Send comments to: Tim