(Modesto Blues Records)
There are some slick sounding and slickly produced blues albums out there right now. Not that they are bad or that the genre shouldn’t be moved forward, but now and again it is good to hear the real deal from those few musicians left from back in the day. One such cat is blues belter Big Pete Pearson.
Well into his 70’s, Pearson began playing blues music at a young age back in the 1940’s in Texas. As he grew into a young adult he found himself in an 8-piece house band at Charlie’s Playhouse in Austin, a common practice back in the day where blues greats would come into town on their own and hire the house band to play behind them. During such gigs Pearson was able to look over and see standing next to him performers like Ray Charles, BB King, Muddy Waters, Gatemouth Brown, Etta James, the recently deceased Koko Taylor and more. He also recorded with many of those artists on session gigs at Peacock Records.
By the end of the 1950’s Pearson had moved west to Arizona where he found his niche. He has been there ever since and has gained the title of Arizona’s version of ‘King of the Blues’ and was inducted into the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame in 1995.
“The Screamer” is the brand new album by Pearson who is still at the top of his game. Backed by a band that isn’t shy but is right there with him instead of going through the standard blues motions, what is cool about this record is that it contains all new songs. Pearson himself writes six cuts on here including one about a woman after his “Paycheck,” the horn section-powered party song “Boink With You” and the title cut that features some stellar guest keyboard work by Joey DeFrancesco.
The other four original songs were written by Pearson’s bass player and musical director Terry Davis including “(If Blues Were Money Than I’d Be A) Millionaire,” and the very timely “Blues Bailout” with lyrics such as, “I spent a lot of money, to fill my tank with gas, I borrowed more money, ‘cause that didn’t last, I’ve been looking for a job, laid off from the last, I can’t pay my mortgage, so they kicked me out on my ass. I need a blues bailout!”
The other musicians that appear on the album include Mike Howard on guitar, Thomas Walker on drums, Joe Bar-Nadav on keyboards, Jerry Donato on sax, Scott Zimmer on sax, Dennis Monce on trumpet and Kurt Finchum on trumpet.
Big Pete Pearson is very much in the here and now, yet he is still old school. He lived through apartheid in America and paid those dues, stood next to and played with the greats of the blues business and is not hampered by any political correctness as he expertly and soulfully belts out lyrics such as “You can get it by the bushel, you can get it by the pound, put it in your car and drive all over town, come and get it woman, I got some good blues for you.”
- Derek Halsey