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Kevin Selfe & The Tornados - Playing The Game

Self(e) Released

10 songs; 44:44 minutes; Suggested

Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues, Blues-Rock

Kevin Selfe’s CD “Playing the Game” is already a winner. There were six entries submitted to the Cascade Blues Association in 2009 to be considered for the organization’s representative in The Blues Foundation’s 2010 Best Self- Produced CD competition. The scores for all the discs were close, but the judges chose Kevin Selfe & The Tornadoes’ “Playing The Game.” And..... the entire band was the Northwest’s 2009 Muddy Award Winner for Best Contemporary Blues Act!

Portland, Oregon based Kevin Selfe is a guitar playing son-of-a-gun, but I was momentarily worried when the “first” song, “Just Like Pulling Teeth” had a definite Stevie Ray Vaughan influence. My fears were needless; across the CD, Selfe demonstrates a huge vocabulary of clean Blues guitar licks and is anything but a one trick pony. The band’s second effort consists of ten original compositions of a variety that highlights the band’s depth, talent, and lyrical humor. Selfe (guita, harmona, and vocals) is joined by drummer Don Schultz and Allen Markel on bass. – both of whom add backing vocals. When Kevin Selfe moved to Portland from Virginia back in January 2007, he quickly found these two veterans to form a West Coast version of the band he had left behind. The trio has developed into a popular ensemble with faithful followers who seem to steadily grow in numbers.

Getting first air play on our WKCC Friends of the Blues Radio Show will be a fast shuffle, “Lay It On The Table.” Beside my favorite pumping bass line, Selfe implores his girl to be honest and come clean. The opening lyrics, sounding similar to Nick Moss’ vocals, set up an incredible guitar solo with hints some Tim “Too Slim” Langford influence.

Next spun will be track 8, the only track predominantly with slide guitar. As a glass-on-steel guitar fan, I enjoyed “Long Greasy Night” that has as greasy of an on-the-edge slide as I could want.

We’re fond of opening the show with an instrumental, and the jazzy CD closer, “Pulled Pork,” showcases the guitar-bass-drums ensemble nicely in just 2:38 minutes.

Other standouts: The eight minute plus slow Blues work “How Much Longer” is a guitar dream, filled with incendiary solos that reflect some Ronnie Earl influence. The jump- swinging “Walking Funny” turns into an earworm about the third listen. As you sing the chorus along with the band, you may have to stop singing to laugh when you get the title’s innuendo.

From the driving shuffle “Just Like Pulling Teeth” to the “Hootcie Cootchie Man” beat of “The Way She Moves” to the funky rhythms of “Blues Don’t Take A Day Off,” Kevin Selfe & The Tornadoes consistently prove originality and versatile competence in their craft. “Playing the Game” has solid, enjoyable offerings for most every Blues taste.

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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