Blues music reaches out from all over the map in multitudes of shades and modes, part of what makes it so damn rousing. As long as it’s done well. The Andy T Band delivers their “Double Strike” from Nashville and San Francisco with waves of Texas heat and lots of big Technicolor swing. Certainly several degrees above well done. No wonder guitar player Andy T (Talamantez) and singer Alabama Mike (Benjamin) sport beaming smiles on the cover.
As produced by Lone Star guitar legend Anson Funderburgh, this sky-high soulful album radiates hip-swaying and head-turning music for any setting. Nominated for seven awards in three years for their three previous albums, the Andy T Nick Nixon Band set out to make a fourth, but Nixon had to retire mid-stream. Thankfully, Nixon sings half the songs here like there’s no tomorrow. Enter Alabama Mike, the ideal fit with his high-pitched, gospel-experienced wail, and for this album anyway, a great contrast to Nixon’s buttery brown sugar of a voice.
The one-heck-of-a-band kicks it off with “I Want You Bad,” Mike turning the tune into a feverish plea. The guitars, including fills and one good piercing solo by Funderburgh, keep the rhythm sailing. Talamantez worked in the aerospace industry for 23 years, but 20 years ago turned retirement into a full-time music career. Listening to him play, it’s surprising he waited as long as he did. At first, second fiddle to Guitar Shorty, among others, he’s honed his mojo into some serious chops. In a line backwards, he’s obviously inspired by Funderburgh, Jimmie Vaughan and the “Iceman” Albert Collins. Plus, he’s a hell of a natural band leader.
The ups and downs of the blues and soul prevail, but T and the band simply let go in “Dream About You,” going at a greasy melody reminiscent of Anson Funderburgh & The Rockets, with Mike just belting out the rock ‘n’ roll. Fireworks of talent and emotion make this “Double Strike” a home run 13 times over. Funderburgh will join the band for their tour this summer, which is a real big deal for blues fans.
- Andy T Band
Release: June 16, 2017
Label: American Showplace Music
- Local show: Wednesday, July 26 at the Sans Regency Hotel & Casino in Reno