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The Twisters - Come Out Swingin’

Northern Blues Records

12 songs; 45:17 minutes; Library Quality

Styles: Jump/Swing Blues; Also included: Rockabilly, Bluesabilly, Reggae, Gospel; Delta Blues; Chicago Blues

I read that The Twisters have been nominated for five of Canada’s 13th Annual Maple Blues Awards. Five nominations!?! Say, maybe we had better go north of the border and take a closer look at this Vancouver, British Colombia and Whitehorse, Yukon band to see what it is all about.

Featuring all original songs, the album is titled "Come Out Swinging,’" and that they do with an upbeat Swing number, "I’ll Make It Up to You." The opening notes reminded me immediately of one of my currently favorite, Jump Blues groups, The Insomniacs. One noticeable difference is David Hoerl’s rich harmonica work integral to their sound. Often using a chromatic harp, he helps make clear why some people call the instrument a "mouth organ." Brandon Isaak is a clearly gifted vocalist and guitarist propelled by Keith Picot slapping his upright bass fiddle. "I missed your birthday and anniversary, too...," Isaak wrote and sings. Yep, he’s got a lot of making up to do!

The Twisters are nominated for Electric Act of the Year, Recording of the Year for "Come Out Swingin,’" Harmonica Player of the Year for David Hoerl, Keith Picot for Bass Player of the Year, and Songwriter of the Year for Brandon Isaak. Drum duties seem to rotate between Matt Pease and Lonnie Powell.

While a definitive and complete history of the band seemed unavailable, research did indicate that The Twisters have been together since 1997. Dave Hoerl is the only original and founding member remaining. They have four previous CDs with the first one coming out around 2003.

For radio play on WKCC this week, I’ll start with "Kiko" mainly because I had a request last week for "more harp music." Another Swing number, track eight opens with finger snapping, foot tapping harmonica notes. Isaak sings with his typical-throughout-the-CD exuberance about "my sweet little Baby," spelled "K-i-k-o." Lonnie Powell slaps brushes on the drums to drive the rhythm hand in hand with Picot’s bass.

My broadcast partner, Shuffle Shoes, and I usually like to kick off the top of the hour with something smoking; therefore, the up tempo "Dirty Boy Blues" will work nicely. Featuring plenty of stinging guitar punctuating the ends of vocal lines and then simply burning on solos, track ten’s guitar isn’t "Dirty," it is downright nasty!

Other radio-ready tracks are the Chicago Blues styled, "Guess That I Was Wrong" and the hopping "Matter of Time" with Jerry Cook guesting on hot saxophone and some of Isaak’s best West Coast guitar.

Are these cats having fun playing or what? In the liner notes, they claim they "should really be known as a Roots band...." For variety, they do some convincing Reggae on "Take My Own Advice." Fast paced, hand clapping Gospel flavoring is found in "Party Goin’ On" with Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne adding his formidable keyboard skills. Going back to the roots of Blues, Hoerl on harp and Isaak on acoustic guitar nail a Delta duet.

Rockabilly (or is that Bluesabilly?) is found in "Something’s Gotta Give" with Hoerl singing vocals while Cook adds a catchy sax hook and Isaak on shimmering tremolo guitar. "Long Overdue" and "Doghouse" also rock those Canadian hillbillies with the latter using some tasty top strings twang from Isaak’s guitar and Picot doing his finest doghouse bass string slapping.

The last blast of recorded fun is the set closer, the jumping "Twister’s Theme." In harmony they sing, "We are The Twisters, Playing in your town, Swinging like monkeys [with monkey sounds], Hope you like our sound....having a blast and we’re clowning around,... having ourselves a ball, we’re jumping - swinging up a storm in every little ole hall...."

Finally, check out the clever theme from the title used on the album covers, with photos to match. "A Man Called Wrycraft" has the boys poised as old time bare fisted boxers, and Hoerl is the white shirt and black bow-tied referee. That’s first class packaging!

Trust me, The Twisters did not get those five nominations as a fluke. These cats are serious contenders. If you want a break from Blues-Rock and straight ahead lump-de-lump Blues, give this masterful CD a listen. It has earned a spot in my library.

Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Thursdays from 7 - 8 pm and Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at in Kankakee, IL

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