Archive for the Bill LUPKIN Category

Bill LUPKIN – Hard Pill To Swallow 2007

Posted in Bill LUPKIN, BLUES on November 21, 2010 by whoisthemonk

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Bill LUPKIN – Hard Pill To Swallow 2007

Blues

14 tracks, 64 minutes. Highly recommended. The next time someone offers the opinion that blues isn’t what it used to be, hand them a catalog from the Blue Bella label and ask if they’ve listened to anything offered from the small but mighty Illinois imprint. Although blues isn’t exactly going through a revival, there are still plenty of artists contributing solid recording projects, and Bill Lupkin is surely one of them. Lupkin moved from Indiana to Chicago in the 1960s hoping to make a living with his harmonica, and found work with Howlin’ Wolf, Johnny Young, Jimmy Rogers and other stalwarts in the Windy City. After a few disappointments, including an ‘almost but not quite’ opportunity with Canned Heat in the 1970s, Lupkin headed home and into musical retirement. Thankfully he’s re-emerged over the last few years, proving to any and all interested that he’s a force to be reckoned with. Like his earlier Blue Bella release (Where I Come From in 2006), Hard Pill To Swallow is a moody and well-paced nod to the masters he once worked with. That’s not to be taken as a lightly passing phrase either. This guy honestly feels that he owes more than a small debt to the people who took him in and gave him his start. Plain and simple, he takes this music seriously and it shows here. Joined by Nick Moss (guitar), Gerry Hundt (guitar and mandolin), Tim Wire (keys), Steve Lupkin (his brother on bass) and Mark Fornek (drums), the grooves are tough, in-the-pocket and greasy. There’s the bristling Chicago boogie of Ain’t The Way To Do It, a thick and brooding minor-key Bad Love that’s laced with thick chromatic, and the relaxed-but-sweltering shuffles of Elgin Bounce or Hook, Line And Sinker to satisfy. As a songwriter, Lupkin is no slouch either. Each of the disc’s fourteen cuts are self-penned without relying on all-too-common verses, and once again, Moss shows his mettle as an excellent producer who understands the nuances of blues. These blues go down as easy as well-aged, oak-barrel bourbon but they burn like rot-gut corn liquor. As mentioned in previous reviews, the Blue Bella stable features the finest bevy of young talent around, and while Bill Lupkin may not be a kid anymore, he’s in the best company he can keep. Another winner from that little old label in Elgin, Illinois. Damn… this is hot stuff!
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Bill Lupkin has been in the thick of Chicago Blues for more than 40 years & still gets one of the best tones in the Blues Biz.
By Mark Hummel.
In the 60s & 70s, he shared the stage with the greatest names in the blues: Muddy, Wolf, and Jimmy Rogers among them. Today Bill Lupkin continues to pay tribute to the masters with his own distinct voice on the follow-up to the 2006 critically-acclaimed release, Where I Come From. Lupkin’s new effort, Hard Pill to Swallow, is the proper prescription for all blues fans suffering from blues scene lethargy. The all-original, 14-track, no-filler harmonica blues, derived directly from the source, simmered and steeped for more than forty years, is good for all that ails you and is guaranteed to make you feel all right, all night. And baby, tomorrow you may just have to have a little more. Featuring Nick Moss on guitar, Gerry Hundt on guitar and mandolin, Steve Lupkin on bass, Tim Wire on keys and Mark Fornek on drums. Produced by Nick Moss.
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Born and bred in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Lupkin brought his hope and harp to Chicago at the tail end of the ’60s, falling into a crowd with Junior Wells, Little Walter and others. His associations led to a rookie stint with Wells’ old band, The Aces. An encounter with Jimmy Rogers came next, Jimmy inviting Bill to be in his backing band, where the young harpist filled out his signature fat air depth. His first recordings were with Jimmy, as well, on 1972’s Gold Tailed Bird.
Oddly, Lupkin would leave the connections he’d just made for an ill-fated, West Coast attempt at stardom with a band he and his brother put together called Slamhammer. That bid ended with a return to his native Indiana, where he put music on hold for a career in stained glass and family duties.
Now calling Yoder, Indiana home, he made his comeback with backing ensemble The Chicago Blues Coalition, and had a debut record on the Blue Loon imprint in ’99 with Live At The Hot Spot. The album showcased Lupkin’s runaway harp leads in mighty fashion, considering the long hiatus. Follow-up effort Where I Come From pays specific respects to the Windy City players who molded his sound–Junior Wells, Howlin’ Wolf, and of course, Jimmy Rogers. The la
test in the Lupkin catalog, Hard Pill To Swallow, takes the artist into post-war revitalizations, his harp wails shining like beacons amidst analog purity.
**
Led by guitarist Nick Moss, Blue Bella is making its name by dedicating itself to capturing Chicago blues.
Bill Lupkin is one of those rare finds. He’s been playing the Chicago blues harmonica for almost 40 years. In that time, he toured with Jimmy Rogers – from 1969 to 1972. But he’s also backed every blues legend you can name – from Muddy to Howlin’ Wolf, Buddy Guy, and Hubert Sumlin, to Dave and Louis Myers – in more Windy City joints than he can probably remember. Here, Lupkin has assembled a Blue Bella all-star band, including guitarists Moss and Gerry Hundt, Steve Lupkin on bass, Mark Fornier on drums and Tim Wire on keyboards.
“Think It Over Baby” jumps off the starting line like a Rocket 88 heading up Highway 61 to the bright lights of the city. As Moss’ guitar flashes Junior Watson, Lupkin’s harmonica shows traces of James Cotton’s-super harp-meets-Little Walter’s- juke.
Lupkin’s chromatic and Hundt’s guitar vibrato centers “Bad Luck,” on the dark side of the street.
With Moss and Hundt doubling guitars, Lupkin’s “Funny Little Thing” revolves around a musical style perfected by Little Walter and the Aces back in the 1950s.
Lupkin’s “I’ll Be Over You Someday,” is a likable derivative of Wolf’s “Sitting On Top Of The World,” with Moss, who spent his formative years wood-shedding throughout Chicago, backing Lupkin’s massive acoustic blows.
Lupkin ends the romp with two great tunes. “Where You Goin’,” is seven minutes of slow blues heaven.
Lupkin closes the album with an all out reed assault on the six-minute title cut. The influence of two Jimmy’s: Rogers and Reed, runs throughout the tune.
Since he arrived in Chicago in the 1960s, Lupkin survived and learned. Now, with his second on Blue Bella, he’s ready to exhale his music. At times you’ll hear William Clarke in his vocals, at other times you’ll hear Cotton’s signature high end blows or massive low end bends, but when it all comes out, there are some tones and runs that are uniquely Lupkin’s.
This is clearly an easy little blues pill to swallow.
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Tim Wire- Keyboards
Steve Lupkin- Bass Guitar
Bill Lupkin- Harp, Vocals
Gerry Hundt- Guitar, Mandolin
Mark Fornek- Drums
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01. Think It Over Baby 3:20
02. Funny Way To Show Me You Love Me 4:06
03. Bad Luck 4:36
04. Fine Little Thing 3:07
05. I’ll Be Over You Someday 4:47
06. Elgin Bounce 4:20
07. Cell Phone Blues 3:55
08. See That Little Girl 4:42
09. Hole In My Heart 4:38
10. Blues Again Today 4:31
11. You’re Gonna Be Sorry 4:01
12. Hook, Line and Sinker 4:51
13. Where You Goin’ 7:19
14. Hard Pill To Swallow 5:48
**
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