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Will Tucker - Stealin’ the Soul

Will Tucker Music

9 tracks

A few years ago I was in Memphis on business and stopped by BB King’s Blues Club for a beer and to listen to the music. Some 15 year old kid was up there who was doing quite well. He never really panned out, but it was apparent BB and his club owners keep an eye out for young, local talent. Will Tucker is another teenage guitar prodigy, and this time they have found a real gem that will not require a lot of cutting and polishing to make it shine! Tucker is 16 and was discovered by King’s owner Tommy Peters in the summer of 2008. Since then he has appeared with a host of blues stars, played at the IBC Youth Showcase last year and now has prepared this CD to promote himself.

The CD contains one original tune; the rest of the tracks are all covers that showcase this young man’s superb talent. Four tracks were recorded live at BB’s club in Memphis, the other 5 at Ardent Studios in Memphis. Tucker’s band includes three stalwarts of the Memphis music scene: Joe Boogie on keys, Randy Middleton on bass and Pete Mendillo on drums. Tucker apparently “ingests” old, worn out blues records, playing them until they are barely audible. If this CD is any indication, this compulsion has given him a a very credible foundation and passion for the blues that makes him sound a lot more savvy than his young age.

The CD begins with the one original cut, “Your Sacrifice”. This is a funky blues song with lyrics of a love gone awry, where Will laments over some girl who “plays by her own set of rules” but he tells her he won’t become “your sacrifice”. The vocals are confident and expressive and his guitar work impeccable. Nicely done, and the stage is set for a host of traditional stuff that burns white hot. The guitar work on Muddy’s “Walkin’ in the Park” is sweet, as is the harp solo and fill in. Willie Cobb’s “You Don’t Love Me” is done in Allman Brother’s style (minus the 19 minute jam), with Will channeling a little of Duane Allman while Boogie is backing him nicely on the B3. There is no dual guitar interplay as in the ABB version, but the lead guitar is beautifully methodical and rises to robust crescendos on the solos. “Stormy Monday” also hearkens to the ABB “Live at the Fillmore East” version of this T-Bone Walker song. Tucker is restrained and soulful in his approach, craftily doling out the notes one at a time as he stretches this out 8 and a half minutes to showcase his guitar work. Next he switches it up with “Born Under a Bad Sign”; I can’t decide if his influence was more Albert King or Eric Clapton on this one, but it was a good influence either way!

The last four songs are the live set from BB’s club. “Burning Love”, “When the Levee Breaks”, “Johnny B. Goode” and “Little Wing” give us a good picture of how this kid (which I say with all due respect, as he is only 16 and I am 54) handles himself in front of a crowd. The first song burns through rapidly and, while overplayed and overdone by so many bands, is still fun and well done. “Levee” is more in the original Memphis Minnie jumping blues style than Led Zeppelin’s and again features solid work by Tucker and Boogie. He is quite animated in the Chuck Berry number, delivering a strong performance and plays the song slightly over five minutes with searing heat. He finishes up with the seminal Hendrix song and pulls it of quite nicely. He pays homage to the softer licks and chords in this one very expressively, and the vocals here are probably his best effort on the CD.

I’m impressed. I’ve heard a lot of the nouveaux guitar heroes and this one’s a damn fine one. He needs to develop his vocals a bit as he sounds young and little apprehensive at times, but he’s got the six stringed beast tamed and under his control. I really like the way he approaches the guitar. He is restrained and reverent, but when he needs to let go he does and it is hot. Some of these young kids just play what they hear on the records while others try to play every note they can to impress you, Tucker falls into a different category- he is respectful to the material he covers, he does not try to totally reinvent it and yet he does not just copy it. Check him out on YouTube and Myspace- you won’t be sorry that you did. I think we will be hearing a lot more from this hot, young talented artist! Go out and get this CD if you want to hear the future of the blues!

Reviewer  Steve Jones is secretary of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL.

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