September 24 will see the release of Phillip Walker’s first live
CD. The veteran bluesman has logged thousands of live performances since the mid 1950’s but this live recording from San Francisco’s Biscuits and Blues
marks another milepost in his career.
The Louisiana born guitarist was raised in Texas and was hired by zydeco pioneer, Clifton Chenier in 1953. Walker stayed with Chenier for almost four years before joining Little Richard’s band. As years passed, he performed with Lloyd Price, Etta James and Lowell Fulsom. An appearance at the Apollo Theater is high on Walker’s scorecard. He later moved to the west coast joining a long string of Texas bluesmen that settled there. A couple of memorable sessions were recorded with Johnny Shines and Eddie Taylor in the late 60s and were issued on the Advent label.
Although he has been under-appreciated to some degree by the critics, musicians hold Walker in high regard. Guitar Player Magazine
calls Phillip "one of the 10 most important blues guitarist living today. " Robert Cray cites Walker as a major influence on his career.
This CD shows the leader in front of his big band
with horns and keyboard. Walker is a powerful and succinct player. His wailing guitar solos bring out the goose pimples with the first few bars. Phillip has chosen his material wisely as he polishes off great tunes by Ray Charles, Jimmy McCracklin, Harold Burrage, Lowell Fulsom and Little Willie Littlefield and opening with his own hit Hello My Darling
. "Think" brings in friends Charlie Musselwhite and the dynamic Angela Strelhli for a barn-burning version of Jimmy McCracklin’s song.
The leader gives ample room for the other musicians to swing out and everyone gets a break. The rhythm section of James Thomas, Aaron Tucker and Alvee Ventura is fabulous. Aaron Tucker has to be one of the finest drummers on the blues scene today.
Phillip Walker is a great vocalist who excels on the jump tunes and proves his broad talents on the weepin’ Respirator Blues
and Along About Midnight
is one of the best tracks on this session with some dynamic guitar fireworks from Walker and soulful piano by Alvee Ventura. The tune lasts an emotional eight minutes.
This CD gets top marks in my book!