Is there anyone out there who doesn’t have a soft spot in their musical hearts for great blues and boogie piano? Some seem to treat it as a guilty pleasure, but I don’t think any other kind of music can raise the spirits as quickly as good piano blues and boogie-woogie. Two of my all-time favorite albums are Philip Aaberg’s Blue West
and Sandy Owen’s Boogie Woogie Rhythm and Blues
, and now there’s a new favorite to add - Mike Strickland’s Mississippi Boy
. The title refers to Strickland himself, who was born and raised in that blues and boogie mecca and learned from some of the very best. All but two of the fifteen tracks are original piano solos and the two covers include vocals. A phenomenal pianist in his own right, Strickland handles all of the intricacies of the genres with ease and makes them sound effortless and spontaneous. The entire album is a joy to listen to - sure to make your head bob and your toes tap!
begins with the exhilarating “Sonny’s Boogie,” a piece that sets the tone of the album and makes me smile every time. This is boogie-woogie at its very best and conveys the pure joy of making music. Next up is the sultry “Long-Legged Blues,” as dark and smokey as “Sonny’s Boogie” is bright and cheerful. “Driving Boogie” is just that - intense, in constant motion, and pure unadulterated FUN! “Mississippi Blues” is classic blues, but Strickland owns the genre here! “Big Train Boogie” is flyin’ down the tracks with an infectious beat and a big grin! “Western Boogie” is cool and aloof with an emphasis on cool
! “Doc’s Rock” is pure playfulness at the piano - musical laughter! The first of the two cover songs is Mose Allison’s “Your Mind Is On Vacation,” a great piece with hilarious lyrics about a compulsive talker who is driving the singer crazy. Strickland gets it just right! “Butter Bean Blues” is slow and sensual - and totally cool! “Late Night Blues” ends the set with dark and soulful musings with a kick. Great stuff!
It’s not even mid-January yet, and I already know Mississippi Boy
will be on my favorites list for the year. I can’t get enough of this stuff. Do your soul a favor and check this one out! I must warn you, though, that it’s addicting! It is available from mikestrickland.com
, Amazon, and iTunes. I give it my highest recommendation!