Saturday, February 4, 2012

Andy Poxon Band - Red Roots

 


Child prodigies.  Most don’t measure up to Mozart.  Then, again, how many kids do you know were composing and performing before royalty at five years old?  Amadeus may have been the exceptional exception.  The ultimate musical genius of all musical geniuses.

There have been others, especially guitar-based bluesmen and rockers.  Jonny Lang released Smokin’ when he was fourteen years old and had his first hit album, Lie To Me, at sixteen.  Kenny Wayne Shepherd was wailing on stage with blues greats when he was thirteen.  By the time he was eighteen he already had a top ten single.

Add to those blues child guitar prodigies Andy Poxon.  He started playing gigs at fourteen and at sixteen years old released a barn burner of an album called Red Roots with The Andy Poxon Band.  If you look beyond Poxon’s giant shock ‘fro of tangled red hair and queue the music, you will hear a thirteen track bombardment of guitar blues - from rockabilly to soul - fronted by a teenager with the pain in his voice of an eighty year old Mississippi Delta blues denizen, the sadness of a middle aged country blues singer and the guitar playing ability of a blues master.

Red Roots starts with Hottest Thing In Town which establishes that Poxon has the musical chops of rockabilly legends. It is Stray Cats on steroids  Poxon follows the opening track with a funky blues number, No Love. Could that really be a late 1970’s Slowhand?  Nope, it’s Poxon.

So what do you do when you write songs and play well enough to rival Brian Setzer and Eric Clapton? Well, you play a country blues on par with Albert Lee. That is exactly what Poxon does on the track Quitters Never Lose. Is that Sam Cooke or Percy Faith?  Nope, it’s Poxon.  While you grapple with the idea that this kid has never lived in a world without the internet,  I Want You So Bad plays and he throws down a guitar solo that would make Joe Bonamassa smile.

The only track that didn’t work for me was I Need My Girl, a pop song with an early rock/blues ballad sound.  It seems like the least mature songwriting on the album. Yet, it too contains some tasty blues licks from a mean guitar slinger.

Is that Stevie Ray Vaughan or Buddy Guy on I’ll Sing The Blues? Nope, it’s Poxon.  What can’t he do with that guitar?  Is that Gary Moore on the track Stop?  Nope, it’s Poxon.

A third country love ballad on the album explores country rock. When is a weepy whopper of a song; Raining In brings Poxon back to the blues of the late 50’s/early 60’s.   How can a kid born in 1996 channel Otis Rush?  Even more insane - a 16 year old creating an Albert King-worthy song and performance like Poxon does on Run Of Bad Luck.

Just when you think Poxon has exhausted his blues tricks he tears it up with an extraordinary blues shuffle, I Hate Being Alone.   Still, he is not done.  The penultimate track, Is There Anything I Can Do, is reminiscent of some of the greatest blues songs ever written.  In it are touches of I Still Have The Blues For You, Born Under A Bad Sign and Stormy Monday. 

The last track is C’mon Pretty Baby, a rockabilly swing country blues which brings Poxon and Red Roots full circle.   It is incredibly hard to believe that Andy Poxon is just turned 17 years old. Hell, when I was 17 years old I was looking for a date to the senior prom, not opening on the road for Coco Montoya and channeling Gene Vincent.  What about you?

--Old School





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