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The Duke Meets The Earl by Ronnie Earl & Duke Robillard

Here’s a fine new CD to tempt the palates of traditional and electric blues aficionados. Two outstanding New England guitarists team up for a kick-ass blues party with some old friends.

Duke Robillard is well known for his work as a founding member of Roomful Of Blues and for his numerous recordings from his solo career. His last CD for Stony Plain drew fabulous reviews from both the jazz and blues press. New Guitar Summit had Robillard in the company of Jay Geils and Gerry Beaudoin in a burning guitar excursion into blues and jazz. His Blue Mood session for the same label documented the music of T-Bone Walker.

Bostonian Ronnie Earl met Duke Robillard during the mid 1970s and often sat in with Roomful Of Blues at a blues club in Cambridge, "The Speakeasy." Inspired by Muddy Waters and T-Bone Walker, he eventually replaced Robillard in Roomful. His 2004 CD Now My Soul is a winner in every way.

The W.C.Handy Blues Awards in May will find both Robillard and Earl fighting it out for guitarist of the year. Both are nominees in other categories, Robillard for Traditional Blues Album Blue Mood and Ronnie Earl for his Now My Soul in the Contemporary Album.

The Duke Meets The Earl is a delightful meeting of the two exciting players in the studio. Guitar students will sit in awe of the talents of these bluesmen. Backed by some of the best sidemen around, Earl and Robillard put on a show that is pure fireworks.

Material is drawn from B.B.King, T-Bone Walker, Walter Price and Eddie Taylor plus three originals by the two guitarists. While there isn’t a mediocre track on this album, three pieces stand out. I Need You So Bad showcases Earl and Robillard and special guest Jimmy McGriff on the Hammond B-3. I’ve always admired the organist and met him in 1973 when he toured with Richard "Groove" Holmes in an "organ battle" show.

Another winner is A Soul That’s Been Abused. It’s a hauntingly beautiful composition by Ronnie Earl. The thirteen-minute track features a vocal by Mighty Sam McClain and some great B-3 sounds by Dave Limina. Last, but not least is the Walter Price song, My Tears and the song speaks for itself. Listen to a sample at the Stony Plain website.

There are guitar sounds on this album that will chill your bones and stand your hair on end. Highly recommended!

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Ronnie Earl & Duke Robillard
  • CD Title: The Duke Meets The Earl
  • Genre: Blues
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Stony Plain Records
  • Tracks: West Side Shuffle; Two Bones & A Pick; My Tears; Lookin’ For Trouble; What Have I Done Wrong; Zeb’s Thing; I Need You So Bad; A Soul That’s Been Abused.
  • Musicians: Ronnie Earl (guitar, slide guitar); Duke Robillard (guitar, vocals on 2,4,7); Mighty Sam McClain (vocal on 8); Jimmy McGriff (Hammond B3 on 4,7); Dave Limina (Hammond B3 on 8); Mark Teixeira (drums); Jesse Williams (electric & acoustic bass); Rod Carey (bass on 4,8); Matt McCabe (piano).
  • Rating: Five Stars
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