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SR5014: Got My Eyes On You   -- Barrelhouse Chuck


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"Opening with Barrelhouse Chuck's thundering piano chords and Kim Wilson's thrilling panther squall harmonica, this terrific set rocks like the best Chicago recordings of the 50's. …Got My Eyes on You is the rare Barrelhouse recording to have one tight unit and a uniform sound. The crackerjack ensemble includes Kim Wilson on harp, Eddie Taylor Jr. and Joel Foy on guitars, and Muddy Waters' former rhythm mates Calvin Jones and Willie Smith. … it could be argued that much of this set is an homage to the great Sunnyland, who played on the originals of many of these selections. There may still be a few piano players playing blues like this, but none with the heart and stamina and the breadth of styles – learned directly from the masters – of Barrelhouse Chuck. No one's done his homework quite like Chuck, and unfortunately, no one ever can again." More Press / Music CD Reviews  »

Justin O'Brien, Living Blues, Sep/Oct 2006

Read press release: Barrelhouse Chuck recording movie soundtrack


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Press / Music CD Reviews

Opening with Barrelhouse Chuck's thundering piano chords and Kim Wilson's thrilling panther squall harmonica, this terrific set rocks like the best Chicago recordings of the 50's.

Barrelhouse Chuck has kept way too low a recording profile given his prodigious talent and impeccable resume. He came to Chicago in the '70s and hung out with Sunnyland Slim, S.P. Leary, Blind John Davis, Floyd Jones, Big Moose Walker, Little Brother Montgomery, Smokey Smothers, and Detroit Junior – in clubs as well as in their homes. While working as a printer he assembled bands for tavern tours as far away as Alaska. His previous releases have included a Blue Loon set and some self-produced efforts of patchwork tracks with topnotch talent, recorded whenever he'd save a few bucks for studio time. Sirens founder Steve Dolins included him on his fine 2001 recording 8 Hands on 88 Keys with Erwin Helfer, Detroit Junior, and Pinetop Perkins, and then issued him on a duet with Helfer titled Prescription for the Blues in 2002.

Got My Eyes on You is the rare Barrelhouse recording to have one tight unit and a uniform sound. The crackerjack ensemble includes Kim Wilson on harp, Eddie Taylor Jr. and Joel Foy on guitars, and Muddy Waters' former rhythm mates Calvin Jones and Willie Smith.

Like no other musician, Barrelhouse Chuck has paid tribute to his mentors on each of his recordings with full emotional commitment and impeccable style. On this release he tips his hat to his old buddy Big Smokey Smothers with the title track, and celebrates memories of Floyd Jones with Floyd's Blues and a lovingly executed School Days, Little Brother Montgomery with Mama You Don't Mean Me No Good (with Eiko Izumi-Gallwas on piano), and Eddie Taylor on Big Town Playboy, with Eddie's namesake taking the vocals and guitar with genetic precision. Detroit Jr. is memorialized by his signature Call My Job, on which Chuck touchingly casts Detroit's companion, Ella Evans, in the voiceover role of his wife waking him for work. Also included is Sunnyland Slim's It's You Baby, and it could be argued that much of this set is an homage to the great Sunnyland, who played on the originals of many of these selections. There may still be a few piano players playing blues like this, but none with the heart and stamina and the breadth of styles – learned directly from the masters – of Barrelhouse Chuck. No one's done his homework quite like Chuck, and unfortunately, no one ever can again.

Justin O'Brien, Living Blues, September/October 2006
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Those of you like me, who had The Sirens pegged as a label specialising in vintage piano blues and gospel, will certainly be reassured by 'Mama You Don't Mean Me No Good', which had me checking the liner to see where this unissued Little Brother Montgomery gem had been unearthed – but of course it is in fact Barrelhouse Chuck Goering on the vocal with the piano playing coutesy of one Eiko Izumi-Gallwas. The closing number will be almost as equally comforting, a quick minute and a half of nifty string band jazz.

This reassurance might be necessary as the set itself opens with Kim Wilson's blasting amplified harp driving along and coincidentally setting the pace and tone for all of the set up to that final brace of songs. This is Chuck the Chicago blues combo pianist and singer, paying tribute to the likes of Sunnyland Slim, Detroit Junior (in a very nice touch, Eetroit's companion Ella Evans does the spoken intro to 'Call My Job'), Memphis Slim with a very impressive 'Mother Earth', Floyd Jones, Smokey Smothers, Muddy Waters, Eddie Taylor et al.

Besides Wilson, the band consists of guitarists Joel Foy and Eddie Taylor Jr. (the latter keeping things in the family by turning in a very creditable vocal on 'Big Town Playboy'), and Muddy's old rhythm section of Willie 'Big Eyes' Smith and Calvin 'Fuzz' Jones, with Kenny Smith taking over the drum chair from dad for one number. The sound is very much that of the fifties filtered through Muddy's seventies band – i.e., each number probably has at least one instrumental break more than it actually needs. That apart – and it certainly didn't harm Muddy's career, did it? – this is a real belter of a set, with Chuck proving himself to be an excellent and versatile vocalist to complement his already recognised talents on the keyboard (his Big Moose tribute is an organ piece).

In short, this CD is a rther unexpected little gem, sure to appeal to lovers of the classic Chicago sound. I liked Chuck's music before; I like it even more now.

Norman Darwen, Blues & Rhythm November 2006
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It's almost impossible to imagine (or find) modern blues this good in a time when the art form has been all but forgotten by the dwindling cast who play the music with its dynamic beauty still intact, but tossing Barrelhouse Chuck in a recording studio with Kim Wilson, Joel Foy, Eddie Taylor Jr., Calvin Jones, and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith was nothing short of brilliant on the part of producer Steven Dolins. Although the CD bears Chuck's name as the featured artist, he is a gifted accompanist and sideman first and foremost – one who knows what subtlety brings – and he plays brilliantly here with Wilson's harp, the buzzing guitars, and drilling rhythm section as much to the fore as Goering's wonderfully traditional keyboard work and vocals. Whether covering Floyd Jones, Detroit Junior, Sunnyland Slim, Big Moose Walker, Big Smokey Smothers, Eddie Taylor, and Muddy Waters among others, this gathering delivers one of best blues discs of 2006 without question. Essential, smoldering, and lowdown!

Craig Ruskey, Roots & Rhythm
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Some of the best blues and jazz recordings would never exist if not for some enthusiast who put their passion for the music ahead of monetary gain, formed their own small labels and shared that passion with the world. One such person is Steven Dolins who runs The Sirens label who's mission is to preserve authentic Chicago blues, boogie woogie, gospel, and jazz piano music. Since reactivating the label a few years back Dolins has issued a steady stream of high quality recordings. That track record continues with fine new records by modern piano master Barrelhouse Chuck who leads an all-star outfit on Got My Eyes On You and Katherine Davis and the Chicago Boogie Ensemble who generate plenty of excitement on Rock This House Live.

Barrelhouse Chuck is a true piano master with a deep sense of tradition and one of the finest younger generation blues piano players you'll find anywhere. Chuck honed his craft mentoring under Sunnyland Slim and Little Brother Montgomery whom he literally lived with during the late 1970's and 1980's. Along the way he's worked with virtually every notable Chicago blues musician you can think of as well as prolifically issuing his own records, most recently "Slowdown Sundown" one of 2005's finest blues records. This time out Chuck leads an all-star blues band which includes ace harp blower and Fabulous Thunderbird's member Kim Wilson; long-time Muddy Waters rhythm section members Willie "Big Eyes" Smith on drums and Calvin "Fuzz" Jones on bass; and talented guitarists Joel Foy and Eddie Taylor Jr, son of the legendary Eddie Taylor. The result is an outstanding set of Chicago ensemble blues as Chuck pays tribute to his idols such as Floyd Jones, Sunnyland Slim, Little Brother, Memphis Slim, Big Moose Walker and others. You don't here much about Floyd Jones these days but back in the 40's and 50's he cut a batch of dark and gloomy classics like "Dark Road" and "Hard Times." Chuck obviously didn't forget tackling "Floyd's Blues" and "School Days" in rocking two handed fashion just like Sunnyland did on the originals with Kim Wilson laying down big toned harp like Snooker Pryor did on those songs and fittingly it's Eddie Taylor Jr on guitar playing the licks his father did back when these were first cut in 1953. Chuck's mentors are well served on the in-the-pocket version of Sunnyland's "It's You Baby" and the lovely "Mama You Don't Mean Me No Good" with a terrific vocal by Chuck that uncannily emulates the one of a kind voice of Little Brother and featuring sensitive piano from Eiko-Izumi-Gallwas. Everything clicks here but mention should also go to a moody, stripped down version of Memphis Slim's philosophical "Mother Earth" and Chuck laying down some steamy organ on "The Bright Sounds of Big Moose."

Jeff Harris, Bad Dog Blues Radio Program
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Steve Dolins has done an invaluable job in helping to preserve the traditions of blues and gospel piano via his The Sirens Records label – his latest two releases continuing that mission with sets that have a decidedly Chicago flavour.

Barrelhouse Chuck has been playing the blues professionally for over 25 years, recording for a plethora labels – featuring on two previous releases on The Sirens – the compilation CD '8 Hands On 88 Keys' and his solo release 'Prescription For The Blues'.

On this set Chuck pays tribute to his mentors Sunnyland Slim and Little Brother Montgomery, whilst also recognizing artists who have had a profound influence on his love for the blues, by the choice of songs from the likes of Detroit Jr, Big Moose Walker, Memphis Slim, Floyd Jones et al. To further enhance the authenticity of this set, Chuck has chosen musicians whose roots are steeped in tradition, hence the names of Kim Wilson, Joel Foy, Eddie Taylor Jr, Calvin “Fuzz” Jones and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith appearing in the All Star Blues Band. The set opens with Floyd Jones' 'Floyd's Blues', powered by Wilson's fat-toned harp and Chuck's Sunnyland Slim inspired double-fisted piano pounding. Sunnyland's 'It's You Baby' is a stomping blues featuring Chuck's booming vocals and Wilson's wailing harp – even Detroit Jr's 'Call My Job' is performed Sunnyland style replete with rollicking piano, muscular guitar (Foy) and powerhouse vocals.

Memphis Slim's 'Mother Earth' is a moody blues where Chuck's brooding vocals are mirrored by cascading piano and tantalizing guitar from Eddie Taylor Jr, who takes the lead vocals on his father's classic 'Big Town Playboy' which is powered by Chuck's pulsing bass lines. Smokey Smothers' 'Got My Eyes On You' is performed Lonnie brooks style with broodingly intense vocals and harp, strident guitar and percolating Farfisa – Chuck switching to organ on 'The Bright Sounds Of Big Moose', Taylor's introspective guitar weaving a web of blues over which the organ scurries giving the number a funkily soulful 'Green Onions' feel.

'Cleo's Mood' features a master-class in phrasing, pitch and tone from Kim Wilson, Foy adding some wild and compelling guitar licks – Foy's buzzing guitar leads the way on his own 'Red River Rumba' – 'Mama You Don't Mean Me No Good' is a wonderful melancholy tribute to Little Brother Montgomery – whilst Chuck's Spannesque piano and Wilson's Little Walter styled harp ensure that Floyd Jones' 'School Days' has a distinct Muddy feel. That leaves Chuck's own 'Iza Mae' which has a distinctive string-band feel as his bouncing piano is accompanied by Foy's acoustic guitar and some wonderful mandolin and fiddle from Gregg Rodriguez.

Whilst Chuck is still plying his trade, blues piano will continue to thrive and the memory of Sunnyland Slim, in particular, will live on.

Mick Rainsford, Blues in Britain, August 2006
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Paul Butterfield, Charlie Musselwhite, Elvin Bishop, and Nick Gravenites were among the first generation of white musicians to live with and be mentored by postwar Chicago bluesmen in the early 1960's. Almost 20 years later, Barrelhouse Chuck Goering did the same thing: In 1979 he drove 24 hours straight from Florida to Chicago to meet Sunnyland Slim, spent the next decade playing with Slim (and practically every other blues pianist living in Chicago at that time), and became Little Brother Montgomery's 'Man Friday' in the process. It was Otis Spann's work with Muddy Waters that sent Goering on his musical odyssey, and Got My Eyes On You chronicles this pilgrim's progress with delicious results.

Backed by a band that defines early South Side electric blues, this 13-track album takes you back to the 1950s with an elan that would make Sunnyland, Montgomery, Memphis Slim, Johnny 'Big Moose' Walker, Detroit Junior, and Floyd Jones swell with pride. Goering's All-Star Blues Band includes Muddy Waters' longstanding rhythm section, drummer Willie 'Big Eyes' Smith and bassist Calvin 'Fuzz' Jones. Joel Foy and Eddie Taylor Jr. share guitar duties, while Kim Wilson blows some fat harp.

Everything is done right. Goering showcases his chops without overpowering a band that lives up to its heritage on each song. His excellent vocals avoid sinking into parodies of his mentors. The repertoire is varied enough to give even novices a representative sampling of Chicago blues styles. Standouts include the title cut by Otis 'Big Smokey' Smothers, a rich version of 'Mother Earth' (Tracy Nelson's signature song), and an interesting variation on Booker T.'s 'Green Onions' called 'The Bright Sounds of Big Moose,' credited to Johnny Walker and featuring Goering on organ.

Don Wilcock, Blues Revue, February/March 2007
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Chuck Goering, under the stage name Barrelhouse Chuck, has been pounding the 88's as a profession now for more than a quarter of a century. For his second Sirens issue 'Got My Eyes On You' he decided to record a batch of favorite covers by such names as Floyd Jones, Detroit Jr., Sunnyland Slim, Big Moose Walker, Muddy Waters, Eddie Taylor, Little Brother Montgomery, Smokey Smothers, and others. For this date Chuck has assembled an A-list of players in the likes of guitar slingers Eddie Taylor, Jr., and Joel Foy, harpmaster Kim Wilson along with ex-Muddy Waters members Calvin “Fuzz” Jones and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith for the bottom end. Aside from adding vocals to Memphis Slim's “Mother Earth,” Wilson sticks to the harmonica here and reaffirms my opinion of him as one of the most under-appreciated practitioners of the instrument. Wilson is featured on “Cleo's Mood” as well as two other instrumentals, “Floyd's Blues” and Joel Foy's crackling “Red River Rumba,” and takes an impressive ride on “School Days” (not the Chuck Berry song). The leader plays a whole bunch of idiomatic piano throughout, summoning up echoes of Sunnyland Slim, Big Maceo, Detroit Jr., Otis Spann, and others. He switches over to the organ for the title cut and a “Green Onions”- like “The Bright Sounds of Big Moose.” After winding down with a duet track singing atop Eiko Izumi-Gallwas' Montgomery influenced piano he turns in a short, acoustic, instrumental trio reading of his own “Iza Mae.” This no-frills session is easily recommended to all true Bluesers.

Larry Hollis, Cadence February 2007
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I'll admit my ignorance here. I'd never heard of Barrelhouse Chuck before this CD. Alright already! I can't know everything – my specialty is Texas Blues! But the first thing that caught my eye when I looked at the cover for Got My Eyes On You was the last name on the list of players in the All Star Band – recent Dallasite and guitarist extraordinaire, Joel Foy. I knew right away: a) this Chuck guy has really good taste in guitarists, and b) he knows something about the blues. Seeing Kim Wilson's name didn't hurt my feelings any either. And, Calvin "Fuzz" Jones, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith and Eddie Taylor, Jr.! What an incredible line up! I couldn't wait to get this CD into the player.

These guys play like a band that's played hundreds of gigs together: loose and fluid yet tight and on the money. The 13 tracks include five instrumentals (including "Red River Rumba" written by the aforementioned Mr. Foy.) and mostly covers, but excellent versions of the chosen songs. Barrelhouse wrote one song, "Iza Mae," and actually sits out on a track on his own CD. I'm thinking, 'This guy must have an extreme amount of confidence to be so generous.' And, from the very first track, it's apparent why. He's quite the talented pianist and an accomplished vocalist as well, and he's assembled, well, an "All Star" cast of characters. How could you produce anything but such a phenomenal product with this class of talent?

A special treat is Eddie Taylor, Jr.'s appearance on the cover of his fathers track "Big Town Playboy", my all time favorite Eddie Taylor tune. They are respectful of the brilliance of the tune without being uptight about it.

Got My Eyes On You has got that late night smoky bar feel. But there's an energy here – this isn't just pro's putting in another nights work. These are musicians who love the blues paying homage to those that have come before them, and leaving a legacy for those who come after. If you haven't done so, discover Barrelhouse Chuck by checking out this CD.

Blue Lisa, Southwest Blues, February 2007
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In the city of Chicago there are two endangered species: Chicago Blues and Piano Blues. A tourist arriving at a “blooz bar” is never going to find a piano soloist. They're likely to hear Rock and maybe Blues Rock instead of Chicago Blues. Instead of a lead-sharing, grooving ensemble, they'll probably hear just one ponderous guitar solo after another. Enter Barrelhouse Chuck Goering, endangered but still deadly at both of those increasing rarities.

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Barrelhouse Chuck is a living legacy. One of the few Chicago blues pianists to have studied under Sunnyland Slim, Pinetop Perkins, Lafayette Leake and Little Brother Montgomery, Barrelhouse Chuck draws on this distinguished lineage to create a blues, boogie-woogie and barrelhouse piano style that places him among blues piano's contemporary elite.

On Got My Eyes On You Barrelhouse Chuck leads an all-star blues band which includes premier harp player and Fabulous Thunderbird's member Kim Wilson and long-time Muddy Waters rhythm section members Willie “Big Eyes” Smith on drums and Calvin “Fuzz” Jones on bass. On guitars are Joel Foy and Eddie Taylor, Jr. This band smokes as Chuck pays tribute to his mentors and heroes Sunnyland Slim, Little Brother Montgomery, Floyd Jones, Detroit Jr., Memphis Slim, Big Moose Walker, Smokey Smothers, Eddie Taylor, and Muddy Waters.

Setting the tone for the entire set to come, the album opens by celebrating memories of Floyd Jones with an instrumental, “Floyd's Blues.” Chuck plays the song's opening notes on piano sounding like Elmore James hitting the first guitar notes to “Dust My Broom.” Immediately “Big Eyes” slaps some skin, Kim Wilson honks some sweet harp, the others join in, and the customer gets a big smile listening to some impeccable Chicago Blues. Jones gets one more nod on cut 7, “School Days” featuring Chuck rocking in two handed fashion on the ivories.

Track 2, “Call My Job,” honors the late Emery “Detroit Jr.” Williams signature song co-written with Al Perkins. Goering secured “Detroit's” companion, Ella Evans, for a both poignant and humorous voice dub and the song's beginning and end as the protagonist's wife trying to wake him for work then reporting he's been fired. Chuck handles the vocals in his always irresistible blues tenor-to-baritone range.

The title track is up third with a nod to Goering's friend Big Smokey Smothers. Studio multi- tracking enables Barrelhouse to give us both his acoustic piano and Italian Farsisa organ. Says Goering, “I am the only guy in the blues playing a Farfisa. Everybody likes their Hammond, and God bless them all, but the Farfisa, to me – first of all it is more portable – it's got a real nasty, greasy, dirty tone. It is not jazzy.”

Of the 13 tracks, only 2 are originals: “Red River Rumba” by Joel Foy and “Iza Mae” by Barrelhouse Chuck. Among the covers, some are standout classics and some forgotten gems. Most honor Albert “Sunnyland Slim” Luandrew who played on the originals of many of these songs.

Other highlights find Chuck instantly grabbing ears on opening organ on “The Bright Sounds of Big Moose” from Johnny “Big Moose” Walker, and the beautiful “Mama You Don't Mean Me No Good” with a sensitive vocals by Goering channeling the unique voice of author Eurreal “Little Brother” Montgomery and featuring guest piano from Eiko Izumi-Gallwas.

Chicago Blues may be endangered, but the real danger would be missing Barrelhouse Chuck's music which continues the Chicago blues piano tradition in stellar fashion.

James "Skyy Dobro" Walker, BluesWax, February 2007
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Pianist and consummate band leader Barrelhouse Chuck keeps Chicago's South Side blues and boogie traditions alive and well with his latest Sirens project, where he not only pays tribute to some of his Windy City mentors (Sunnyland Slim, Little Brother Montgomery, Floyd Jones and the inimitable Detroit Jr.) but also had the good sense to enlist Muddy Waters' longtime rhythm section members Willie “Big Eyes” Smith on drums and Calvin “Fuzz” Jones on bass along with talented local guitarists Joel Foy and Eddie Taylor, Jr. to join him.

Premier harmonica ace Kim Wilson, of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, also appears on most of the thirteen numbers – especially shining on a pair of atmospheric instrumentals that underline the obvious chemistry between Chuck's percussive piano and Wilson's Little Walter-styled, rich-toned harp playing. The first, “Floyd's Blues,” was composed by one of the idiom's most accomplished songwriters (a spot-on cover of his lament “School Days” is also here) with the extemporaneous-sounding workout on Foy's rocking and rolling “Red River Rumba” proving equally resilient.

Other head-turners include an inspired version of Chicago mainstay Johnny “Moose” Walker's signature “The Bright Sounds of Big Moose,” with Chuck nailing Walker's big and bluesy, out-front organ delivery; an emphatic cover of Little Brother's archetypal lament “Mama You Don't Mean Me No Good” (with Eiko Izumi-Gallwas guesting on honky tonk piano); Wilson's fluent, infectious interpretation of Junior Walker's hit “Cleo's Mood” and a moving take on Eddie Taylor's early Chicago jukebox smash “Big Town Playboy,” featuring Taylor's son on guitar and vocal.

Over the last 25 years, Chuck has recorded prolifically for more than fifteen labels but this solo album, fronting a genuine All-Star blues band, ranks among his best efforts to date.

Gvon T, Sing Out, Spring 2007
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Pianist Chuck Goering (aka Barrelhouse Chuck) pays homage to his mentors; a who's who of Chicago's Blues greats. Not only that but he has put together a star studded cast in Kim Wilson, Willie 'Big Eyes' Smith, Calvin 'Fuzz' Jones, Joel Foy and Eddie Taylor, Jr. … This must have been a joy of a session to watch from the control room, I'm sure there must have been a great vibe on the other side of the glass. Wilson's tone is superb, and weaves a magic carpet throughout this album with control and tasteful runs. It is nice to see Barrelhouse Chuck's confidence growing on vocals, this guy incidentally has played in over ten Chicago Blues Festivals over the years. Some tracks stand out for particular performances, but overall 'Call My Job', 'Cleo's Mood', 'The Bright Sounds of Big Moose', 'Just To Be With You', and 'Mama You Don't Mean Me No Good'. … it's a big thumb's up [on] this one!

Billy Hutchinson, Blues Matter!
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Amazing Chicago blues musical exercise performed by one of the most charismatic Chicago style piano players. Barrelhouse Chuck gives us joy with his fifties old sound on the path of characteristic Sunnyland Slim phrasing and tone, he usually pays homage to in every cd he records. In this new “Got My Eyes On You”, Chuck has recruited great musicians and masters such as Kim Wilson on harp. Calvin 'Fuzzy' Jones on bass, Eddie Taylor Jr. on guitar and vocals, Joel Foy on guitar and the one and only Willie 'Big Eyes' Smith on drums. Fifteen exceptional songs with an amazing recording sound. Tradition, magic and feeling can be found in this excellent album that deserves to go down in history. Fortunately blues is still alive and well, and this cd really proves that. ESSENTIAL.

Vicente Zumel
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Since I'm on a Kim Wilson jag after the T-Bird's gig, figured that I'd put my two cents in as to what I think is one of his finest examples of recorded Chicago style blues harp. When called upon, he plays an incredible sideman and has done so with Jimmy Rogers, Pinetop Perkins, Hubert Sumlin and many others. I mentioned to him, at the gig posted below, that when anyone asks me now about Chicago bluesharp, that I just tell them to listen to Barrelhouse Chuck's newest release. His eyes lit up, he smiled and exclaimed, "Yeah, that's a good one!"

Anyone who calls themselves a fan of piano blues music knows that Chuck Goering, better known as Barrelhouse Chuck, has been hammering the keys around the Chicago area for decades. They also know that he has been intent on carrying on the tradition of the great Chicago bluesmen that influenced him to move to the Windy City from Florida many moons ago.

This disc is a tribute to, not only some of his piano mentors such as Sunnyland Slim, Memphis Slim, Detroit Junior, Big Moose Walker and Little Brother Montgomery, but also to the soundscape of the music itself and his friends who have passed on that were instrumental in it's creation. He covers tunes by the aforementioned piano giants and Floyd Jones, Big Smokey Smothers, Eddie Taylor and Muddy Waters. The music moves from the ensemble playing of the '50s with piano and harp leading the way, to the early '60s sounds that added guitar solos to the mix with a little organ layered upon it. By employing Muddy alumni, Calvin "Fuzz" Jones and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, to hold down the bottom end and throwing ringers like Joel Foy, Eddie Taylor Jr. and Wilson into the mix he is able to get away with the "And The All-Star Blues Band" title. I don't imagine that he had to do a heck of a lot of explaining in the studio with these cats in tow.

Not many discs kick off with instrumentals, but Chuck's piano leads into "Floyd's Blues" with Kim's fat toned harp boosting the rhythm and throwing down tasty leads that weave around the groove and sets the tone for what follows. Goering orchestrates much like a veteran conductor. Sometimes his piano is the focus, such as on the double-fisted hammering he gets going on Memphis Slim's "Mother Earth", but he allows Eddie Taylor Jr.'s guitar picking just as much space on the tune. On Big Brother Montgomery's "Mama You Don't Mean Me No Good", one assumes that it is he that is doing the ivory tickling, but he turns that duty over to Eiko Izumi-Gallwas and just sings the tune. I really don't mean to say "just" sings, because Chuck really floored me with his vocals each time that he opened his mouth and let loose in a voice packed with emotion. He gets especially deep into it on Floyd Jones' "School Days" (with Kim playing some great 1st position harp) and Muddy Waters' "Just To Be With You", which I've never heard anyone but Muddy sing better--he nails it and Wilson puts on a Chicago bluesharp clinic on this one. He turns the vocals over to Eddie Jr. for senior's Big Town Playboy, an absolute highlight for me because I'd never heard Jr. sing or play and felt he may just be one of those siblings jumping in to capitalize on the name. Teaches me to jump to conclusion--he's for real.

Chuck even sits out entirely on "Cleo's Mood", which showcases Mr. Wilson and just what chops he chooses to amaze us with and allows Joel Foy and Eddie Jr. to stretch out and bounce lead riffs off each other. Both guitarist have such a feel for this type of music and are given ample and equal opportunities to shine. Joel is featured pretty heavily on his own instrumental "Red River Rhumba", that he puts a minor feel Albert Collins' spin to and has Kim moving exquisitely from chromatic harp to diatonic and back again. Oh, I guess I could go on and on with the gushing accolades regarding the musicianship on each and every tune, but trust me "they ain't no clunkers" here and it pretty much has it all, regardless of whether one's taste leans towards piano, guitar, harmonica or just some well sung blues. For one of the best modern productions of Chicago blues, pick up Barrelhouse Chuck's Got My Eyes On You.

Ricky Bush http://www.bushdogblues.blogspot.com
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