Duke Robillard has earned his share of W.C. Handy/Blues Music Awards yet he doesn’t seem to receive the respect due his status as not only one of the most innovative artists in the genre, but also one of blues music’s greatest traditionalists. These two things aren’t as mutually exclusive as they may seem – Robillard’s creativity as an instrumentalist has influenced a generation of blues guitarists, his immense legacy built not only on his tenure with seminal modern era blues bands Roomful of Blues and the Fabulous Thunderbirds, but also for his lengthy and exhaustively prolific career as a solo artist. With dozens of albums released under his own name, Robillard has also recorded and toured with folks like Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Pinetop Perkins, and Robert Gordon, among many others.
As a producer, Robillard has produced albums by such diverse talents as R&B great Jimmy Witherspoon, Chicago harp wizard Billy Boy Arnold, Kansas City piano giant Jay McShann, and legendary jazz guitarist Herb Ellis. Robillard’s role as a traditionalist extends beyond his work in the studio with legendary figures into his own recordings, where he regularly revisits and often re-interprets blues and jazz songs from the 1920s, ‘30s, and ‘40s, exposing this influential material to a new generation of fans.
On September 25th, 2015 Stony Plain Records will release the guitarist’s The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard, the follow-up to his acclaimed 2013 album Independently Blue. Featuring Robillard’s underrated vocals and performances on multiple stringed instruments, the guitarist has dipped into his Rolodex to enlist the help of several talented friends to appear on the album, including singers Maria Muldaur and Sunny Crownover, harmonica player Jerry Portnoy, the late pianist Jay McShann, and some other well-known names in the blues world like sax player Doug James and drummer Mark Teizeira, among other folks.
With The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard, the guitarist reaches into the great American songbook to dig up songs by blues legends like Big Bill Broonzy, W.C. Handy, Sleepy John Estes, and Robert Lockwood as well as country tunes by Hank Williams and Jimmie Rodgers which are interpreted by Robillard in his own indomitable style. The album was recorded primarily at Robillard’s own Mood Room studio with additional work done at Lakewest Recording, and some live recordings captured at Blackstone River Theater in Cumberland, Rhode Island.
“This project has been about a decade in the making for various reasons I won't go into here,” Robillard states in the liner notes for the new album. “As many of you know, I am, and always have been, a huge fan of American roots music in its entirety. Blues, ragtime, early jazz, Appalachian music, early country, swing, honky-tonk, folk, R&B, soul, New Orleans music, rock and roll and all kinds of roots music have always moved and inspired me the most. Especially the artists that were there at the beginning of each style. Those artists always seem to be the most honest to my ears.”
As such, The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard is a tribute to those disparate influences, a collection of material recorded by some of the greatest and most influential innovators in their individual genres. “With this album,” says Robillard, “I honor many of the pioneers of true American music, from close to the beginning of recorded music to the 1940s. This is the time period I love most and find a never-ending river of new music to discover, enjoy and be influenced/inspired by. This recording concentrates on music written and recorded in the ‘20s to the ‘40s, with the exception of some original songs and Robbie Robertson's ‘Evangeline,’ which sounds like it could be from that time period!”
You can bet that if it has Duke Robillard’s name on it, The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard is going to be great, and if all you know of the blues and American music comes from the legion of Stevie Ray Vaughan clones weighing down bar stools across the land, you owe it to yourself to open your ears and expand your mind with The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard!
The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard tracklist:
1. My Old Kentucky Home
2. Big Bill Blues
3. I Miss My Baby In My Arms
4. Jimmie's Texas Blues
5. Backyard Paradise
6. Evangeline [featuring Sunny Crownover]
7. Left Handed
8. I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water
9. I'm Gonna Buy Me A Dog (To Take the Place of You)
10. Nashville Blues [featuring Mary Flower]
11. St Louis Blues
12. What Is It That Tastes Like Gravy?
13. Someday Baby
14. Let’s Turn Back the Years
15. Take a Little Walk With Me
16. Santa Claus Blues [featuring Maria Muldaur]
17. Profoundly Blue [featuring Jay McShann]
18. Ukulele Swing
Buy the CD from Amazon.com: The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard