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Earl Gilliam

Texas Doghouse Blues

With criminally little fanfare, Austinite Eddie Stout has been cutting some of the finest blues records in America during the past five years, many of them starring Houston-based artists such as Little Joe Washington, Gloria Edwards and, now, Tomball keyboardist Earl Gilliam and southside guitarist I.J. Gosey.

Though he was a labelmate of Willie Nelson's in the 1950s on the Sarg label, Gilliam is most familiar to local blues fans of recent vintage as the late Joe "Guitar" Hughes's musical foil; Hughes loved trading fours with the man he always called "Earl the Squirrel," and when Hughes died, Gilliam seemed to fall into something of a funk.

Former Duke-Peacock sideman Gosey held down the Sunday-afternoon jam at C. Davis Barbecue for more than 27 years, establishing himself over that time as one of the most tasteful, immaculate and jazzy blues guitarists in the land.

Gosey and Gilliam are joined by a crack band -- bassist Pops Stewart, guitarist Jonn Richardson, drummer Willie Sampson and sax man Shedrick Cormier -- and they all see to it that Texas Doghouse Blues will have you howling at the moon. Gilliam trades off on organ and piano, and on his solo numbers on the latter, such as "The Doghouse" and "Stop By John's," he sounds like a 1930s-style barrelhouse master on the order of "Whistling Alex" Moore or Robert Shaw. On the organ, Gilliam is more up to date, alternately serving up greasy Gulf Coast funk, slinky shuffles and Texas-style Jimmy Smith-infused groove jazz, through which Gosey interweaves his masterfully sparkling guitar runs.

Swelter season's just starting, and no doubt plenty of you are cleaning out your barbecue pits for seasonal backyard festivities. This CD would sound just as nice at one of those shindigs as a handful of smoldering mesquite chips will smell.

 
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