It was obvious by the cover art, as I pulled this CD out of the mailer, that 24 Hour Blues was a high-end DIY affair, but that impression was more than a little deceptive, and, hoo boy!, right from the moment I tossed it into the player, the sound came through clear, pure, and rockin'. Wouldn't have surprised me a bit had I noted Duke Robillard's name somewhere in the roster 'cause the styles and sound are straight from that territory. Charles Davis spent near to a decade with the Calvin Owens Blues Band, appearing not only on a number of albums but also on sessions with Johnny Bush and Willie Nelson when they hired the band. Owens passed in '08, so Davis decided to go it on his own, and 24 Hour is a delightful and extremely powerful first effort that's surprising in more ways than one.
Davis handles the stringwielding and has a rotating backing band and horns while hosting a revolving menu of dynamite singers. Jabo, the Texas Prince of Zydeco, starts things out in a swingin' Help Me Baby before being joined by Rue Davis (no relation to Chas) who sets to burning the joint down! Man, this Rue cat knows how to belt it out, passionate and fiery, with a voice like a B.B. King always het up and tearing through the walls. This sets Jabo goin' and both gents head for town. Stage set, Roberta Donnay struts in and starts melting hearts and invoking howls with her ultra-sexy babydoll voice in That's How I Learned to Sing the Blues, a muskier Billy Holiday / Eartha Kitt from other other side of town. The song's format is hot 20s with muted trumpet and keening violin, a killer track I'd set right beside cuts from those old James Montgomery Band LPs. There's a kindredness there.
Then Rue amps down and delivers a soulful ballad, and, at this point I'm thinking "Goddamnit! Is this an Alligator, VizzTone, or Stony Plain release that got mislabeled???", 'cause, brothers 'n sisters, 24 Hour Blues just smokes! The arrangements, which Davis charts (with a bit of help on the horns), are dynamite, But wait a minute! Then Trudy Lynn glides in and matches Rue with a high flying torchy tear jerker on the golden Still Got the Blues for You complete with strings and a wrenching sax solo, not to mention a Davis guitar lead that cuts through ice, fire, and smoke. Man o man…what next? Well, I'm gonna let you discover the rest for yourself, but let me tease it just a bit more: Trudy turns around and gives Rue a run for the money on the stompin', shoutin', down, and gloriously nasty It's Tight Like That; Roberta reappears and gets even more bedroomy beside Davis' Ronnie Montrose slo-licks, and the whole thing closes with a laid back incendiary instrumental showcase for the axehandler's late-period Jeff Beck side. Long story short, y'all: if someone doesn't get this disc onto radio, there's a-gonna be an uprising! Great stuff!! The year is only one month old, but so far, for my money, this is the blues CD of early 2013, and completely unexpected.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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