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Tas Cru - Tired of Bluesmen Cryin'

Crustee Tees Records

11 tracks/52:44

The cover for this one shows Tas Cru sitting in an otherwise empty bar, about to pour a drink for his companion, a beagle decked out in shades and a derby hat. The photo encapsulates Cru's offbeat sense of humor and his unique twist on his version of blues music. The all-original program is filled with insightful, witty lyrics and enthusiastic performances that hold up over repeated listens.

Based out of New York state, Cru plays a variety of guitars including a cigarbox model as well as handling the lead vocals while adding harmonica to a number of tunes. His voice has a darker tone with a bit of a gritty edge to it. His able accompaniment includes Larry DeVivo and Joe “The Claw” Goehle on bass, Andy Hearn on drums & percussion while Chip Lamson and Tony Perrino handle the keyboards.

Cru is a firm believer in teaching younger generations about the emotional power of blues music. He got the idea for the title track during an interview he did with a sixteen year old singer during filming that would later be part of a fundraiser for a not-for-profit music school. Kiara made it clear that she didn't like hearing blues singers whining about all that they had lost. That was not the way she lived life. So Cru turned her remarks into a sizzling opener, expressing his tongue-in-cheek contempt for singers complaining losing their woman while he has nine or ten more ready lined up to his woman's place.

On “Changin' My Ways”, Cru adopts a different attitude that finds him ready, willing and able to whatever will make his lover happy. Goehle and Hearn lay down a solid rhythm while the leader's delicate picking on a resonator guitar. Cru also doubles on harp, his bright tone and use of the upper register providing a nice accent for the piece. The band uses a standard blues riff on “Road to My Obsession” with Lamson on organ filling out the arrangement while Cru convincingly describes his life as a bluesman.

Over a toe-tapping beat, Cru details everybody's desire for “That Lovin' Thang” with Perrino laying down chords on the organ in addition to some rolling piano lines. His wistful vocal over the lazy, country-tinged “Sure Do (Want to Fool Around)” is one of the disc's highlights. It forms a mini-trilogy with the two songs that follow with “Story Time” dealing with the consequences of unfaithfulness. Jeremy Walz's slide guitar rides the organ-drenched arrangement as Cru outlines the telltale signs of cheating going on. The final part of the trilogy, “Heal My Misery”, finds Cru pleading for the return of his woman while Walz's raw slide licks echo the singer's anguish. The cut has a familiar “Ghost Riders in the Sky” feel to it.

The pace slows to a soulful groove as Lamson's piano opens “One More Time”, establishing a late night, down-in-the dumps mood that Cru captures perfectly n his downcast vocal that slowly morphs into a powerful expression of love, but not before he wrings a graceful solo out of his guitar. Lamson's organ rides Goehle's funky bass line on “Try, Oh I Try”, a tune that documents Cru's struggles to avoid temptations of the female persuasions.

The closing track is an intense slow blues that serves as a tribute to the US Army's 10th Mountain Division, whose units have endured more than twenty deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Cru sings with startling realism about the doubts of soldiers as they contemplate a return home, knowing that war has changed them forever. It honors their valiant efforts while providing a dramatic marker for the extent of Cru's artistic reach. You can be sure that once you here this fine project, you will want to check out Cru's previous four releases. It's always great to hear musicians sharing their joy and enthusiasm for music, which is exactly what Tas Cru and his cohorts do on this fine recording.

Reviewer Mark Thompson retired after twelve years as president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL. and moved to Florida. He has been listening to music of all kinds for over fifty years. Favorite musicians include Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Magic Slim, Magic Sam, Charles Mingus and Count Basie.

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