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Jason Elmore & Hoodoo Witch - Upside Your Head

Underworld Records

14 songs; 56:23 minutes; Suggested

Styles: Blues, Blues-Rock, Rock

Survey: Which describes your band?
A) Our Band has fun.
B) Our band plays great music, and we have serious fun.
C) Our band has fun, but we play serious music.

My take is that Jason Elmore and Hoodoo Witch are best described by the last phrase; they’re damn serious about their music and their “fun” comes from creating it well. The just-turned-32-years-old Elmore is a native of Texas, and he seems well schooled in rowdy, yet refined guitar work having been influenced by Freddie King, Anson Funderburgh, and Jim Suhler, among many others.

“Upside Your Head” is the high energy trio’s debut CD and will be released on April 20, 2010 on the Underworld label. The album was produced by Jim Suhler (front man for Monkey Beat and lead guitarist for George Thorogood) and consists of 14 original tracks. Beau Chadwell is the drummer in lock-step with bassist Chris Waw.

The very first track showcases a fine example of the Lone Star State’s rich musical heritage.

With lyrics about rowdy as hell protagonists out on the wild from “Dusk Till dawn,” the greasy Texas flavor drips off of words like, “...bloodshot eyes; head full of red – port - wine...,” and “...sawed off gun and a pocket full of shells....” This sets up an incredible, ripping slide guitar solo that sounds like Jason may have some Tim “Too Slim” Langford (the label owner) influence, too.

Song writers and all writers are often advised, “Write about what you know.” If Elmore took that advice, then what he knows for sure is woman trouble (“Drag Me Down,” “Black Widow,” Road to Ruin,” “Evil Woman”). Just one example is found in the first song my partner Shuffle Shoes and I played on our WKCC radio show, “6 Foot Down.” This fast paced Texas shuffle features rip-snorting guitar work and a vamp reminiscent of ZZ Top. “I won’t be back around,” the narrator tells his ex-lover. “I’d be better off 6 feet in the ground!”

“World of Trouble” was our next spin; it features Monkey Beat’s Shawn Phares guesting on accordion and B-3 organ. Elmore lays down slashing guitar and, mid song, some simply nasty slide guitar. “My woman’s gone, she took my cash, drank all my liquor, smoked my stash / the future’s looking dim, just empty bottles, seeds and stems / it’s a world of trouble....” Trouble? Now that is a convincing testimony!

Following last week’s airing of track 1, this week will find a tasty, low down slow Blues, “All It Does Is Rain,” with Tommy Young guesting on B-3 organ. Gut wrenching string bending and Walter Trout like violin-sounding guitar runs emote a mood to match the “dark cloud/high water” lyrics.

Future spins will include “Evil Woman” showcasing a catchy melody that changes the pace. Some of Elmore’s tastiest guitar progressions are found here just over the rhythm and Phares again on B-3 organ. “Black Widow’s” quintessential contemporary Texas guitar over a shuffle is always a solid crowd pleaser.

For acoustic fans, producer Jim Suhler joins Elmore on slide resonator guitar in the final track, “That’s the Way It’s Got To Be.”
For gritty hard rock fans, try “Big Money Grip,” “Drag Me Down,” “Wash My Hands of You,” and “Nobody Knows.”

Anything but a cat with a hat and a Strat, Jason Elmore’s Southern flavor and Texas guitar combine to pleasantly cross genres across this set. Both Rock and Blues fans will find much here to enjoy. For new Blues fans, this CD is a great introduction to the rich Texas sound.

Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and longtime Blues Blast Magazine contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at in Kankakee, IL

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