“XTRA XTRA, read all about it: the blues is back in town” on fifth installment of Blues from the Burgh compilation

The Blues Society of Western Pennsylvania (BSWPA) delivers another terrific compilation of tracks from local and native blues artists on this fifth edition of the society’s Blues from the Burgh CD series. 

This latest installment kicks off with songs from two strong female singers, starting with Pittsburgh-born and -raised Barbara Blue (who has long held down a steady gig on Memphis’ Beale Street, and whose “Accidental Theft” can also be heard on her own recent album Fish in Dirty H2O), followed by a breaking news announcement from Jill West & Blues Attack that “the blues is back in town” on the swinging, harmonica-laced “XTRA XTRA”. Together, they nicely set the tone for the rest of the album, which features solid performances from a number of other female vocalists, including the funky, sometimes gruff uptempo R&B of Miss Freddye‘s “Lady of the Blues” (with well-known blues players Kid Andersen on guitar and June Core on drums), a soulful, Bonnie Raitt-ish “Mama She Knows” from Lori Russo & the Uppercuts, and the Stevee Wellons Band‘s creeping, dramatic “Bed and a Bottle”.

Among their male counterparts, the biggest highlights come in a gritty, shuffling “Shake That Thing” from Dan Bubien & the Delta Struts (off the band’s Thieves & Yesterdays album), a slinking “Ease Me Down” from Jimmy Adler on which he’s also joined by Andersen on bass guitar and Core on drums, as well as Jim Pugh (Robert Cray, Etta James) on keyboards, a gospelish, Eric Burdon-like “We Walk On” from Hoodoo Drugstore, and the strutting grooves and almost-cracking vocals of “Ordinary Guy” from The Aces, with Bubs McKeg providing vocals on the latter two while local harmonica man Charlie Barath blows away on both “Ordinary Guy” and “Shake That Thing”. 

While a few of the remaining tracks could probably have been left off the collection to help it achieve an even higher level of impressiveness, this set, like its precursors, goes a long way in helping to spread the word about the vibrant state of the blues in the ‘burgh, and will make a terrific holiday gift for blues fans in and outside of western PA. 

The CD is available for purchase through the BSWPA site, where it can be ordered either individually or — if you or the blues fan for whom you’re shopping have missed the earlier installments — as part of the full 5-CD series for the unbeatable price of just $20. Then, do yourself another favor and resolve to go out and see a few of these artists live over the holidays or in the new year!

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