Everybody who loves country blues will welcome the arrival of a great acoustic duo from southern California. Nathan James and Ben Hernandez introduce their debut album Make A Change Sometime
The new CD runs the gamut from a bit of gospel, jug and string band styles with the emphasis on Delta blues. The songs include material from Big Bill Broonzy, Sonny Boy Williamson, Sleepy John Estes plus a half dozen penned by the duo.
Guitarist Nathan James is a California native who has spent a decade playing the country blues. Joining the James Harman band as a teenager, Nathan James gained a truckload of experience, not only in playing the blues, but also in business management of a band. The Harman outfit toured widely and recorded often. His old boss joins the duo on this debut recording with his original song aptly titled "Here's Your Breakthrough."
Ben Hernandez is a musical "jack of all trades." Still in his twenties, the young musician entertains on harmonica, spoons, washtub bass and kazoo. His jug playing is second only to the style of the venerable Fritz Richmond. Hernandez cites Sonny Terry and Sonny Boy Williamson as his first influences. The young musician penned three tunes for this project, "Europe Blues", "Pains My Heart To Love You" and the remarkable "Finished Last." The latter features the piano of Gene Taylor of Fabulous Thunderbirds fame. Nathan James lends some beautiful guitar licks and Taylor lays down a Jimmy Yancey style bass figure, plus his usual treble attack. Ben Hernandez offers a lowdown kazoo solo and handles the vocal. It's a great track!
Violinist Sara Watkins of the bluegrass trio Nickel Creek lends a hand on Nathan James' tune, "The Well," and on a Mississippi Sheiks number titled "Please Baby." The young fiddler reminds this reviewer of the veteran Richard Green who played with Jim Kweskin, Seatrain, Maria Muldaur and The Blues Project. Watkins is a truly gifted performer.
The duo of James and Hernandez planned this release carefully and the result is a notch above many self-produced debut recordings. Our favorites are "Everybody Make a Change Sometime", "Please Baby", "Finished Last" and "Here's Your Breakthrough." Nathan James and Ben Hernandez deserve your attention. Checkout the sound samples at their website. It's good blues!