Chris Beard – Live Wire
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Live Wire, Chris Beard's Northern Blues debut, captures the firey New York guitarist at Chicago's Kingston Mines, Blues at the Mall in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and live in the Village Gate recording studio in Chris' home town of Rochester, New York. Comparisons to guitar power houses like Luther Allison and his son Bernard, and to contemporary blues guitarslingers like Michael Hill, Eric Sardinas, Andrew Cummings and Northern Blues labelmate Eddie Turner are appropriate after just one listen. Live Wire, Beard's first self-produced CD and third CD in a storied blues career, features 15 guitar-heavy cuts that just don't quit. He's been anointed "the Prince of the Blues" throughout New York, and his first CD, Barwalkin (JSP Records) earned Chris a WC Handy Award nomination for Best New Blues Artist in 1998. Son of guitarist Joe Beard, Chris' early musical mentors include Buddy Guy and Matt "Guitar" Murphy. When I listen closely to "Tribute to Luther Allison," I hear Chris channeling another Chicago blues inspiration. Chris' toned-down and soulful reading of "A Change Must Come" is among my favorites on this CD for the way Chris' guitar leads float gently atop George Snell's keyboards. Chris Beard tours frequently, and it's a testament to his talent that he's on the road most of the year.
1. Born to Play the Blues - 9:04 2. Ten Toes Up - 4:25 3. It's About Time - 6:45 4. Tribute to Luther Allison, Pt. 1 - 6:25 5. Tribute to Luther Allison, Pt. 2 - 2:27 6. Caught Up - 5:38 7. It's Over, Pt. 1 - 8:20 8. It's Over, Pt. 2 - 4:20 9. It's Over, Pt. 3 - 2:12 10. Street of Broken Dreams - 3:48 11. Never Felt No Blues - 5:15 12. A Change Must Come - 5:00 13. Can't Walk Away - 3:47 14. Lock My Dreams - 3:29 15. Who You Can Trust - 2:48
Chris Beard (guitars, vocals) , Brother Wilson (guitar) , Steve Grills (guitar) , Buddy Honeycutt (drums) , Quinn Lawrence (horns) , Marvin Parker / Tony Jackson / Darren Robinson (bass) , Alan Murphy / George Snell (keyboards)
1. AllMusic by Chris Nickson
You could say that Chris Beard likes to play guitar -- the nine minutes of fretboard pyrotechnics that make up the opening "Born to Play the Blues" make that all too apparent. This is a full-on electric blues (mostly) live disc, full of scintillating lead guitar (check out the inspired "Tribute to Luther Allison"), backed by a top-notch band, whose players also get a good workout, like keyboardist Alan Murphy on "It's About Time." But the inevitable focus is on Beard's massive skills. He's a good singer, if not outstanding, but he's a dynamic, inventive guitarist who seems to be at his happiest when dazzling an audience. Those cuts have an immediacy and energy that's missing on the three final studio tracks -- even the aching "Lock My Dreams," where he makes his guitar cry, lacks that energy. Having already established his reputation with his previous work, Beard cements his stature with this record, and sets himself up to take a place among the contemporary blues guitar greats.
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