Jim Suhler is one of the best guitarists to ever come out of Texas. The Dallas rocker is right up there with his friends Billy Gibbons and Johnny Winter, as well as Austin legend Stevie Ray Vaughan. Along with his band, Monkey Beat, Jim rips it up from top to bottom on his latest, Tijuana Bible.
The title track rocks with a real ZZ Top swagger for sure, and “Devil in Me” is an instant blues classic. It’s a song meant to be heard at top volume, with some amazing drum work from Jimmy Morgan.
Suhler brings along an array of special guests to help make the party that much more special, including Wet Willie singer Jimmy Hall, blues prodigy Joe Bonamassa, singer/songwriter Tom Hambridge, and the one and only Elvin Bishop, who adds slide guitar to a cover of his own song “Drunken Hearted Boy,” in the best version of this classic since The Allman Brothers Band covered it with Elvin.
Bonamasa rips it up on lead guitar on the awesome smooth blues “Deep Water Lullaby,” a song with a real Jimi Hendrix vibe to it, and Jimmy Hall sings his heart out (as always) on “Po’ Lightnin.”
Monkey Beat just rocks. Whether they are singing about a “Sunday Drunk,” putting some Texas twang on AC/DC’s “Up To My Neck in You,” or getting down into a funky groove on Rory Gallagher’s “I Could’ve Had Religion,” they are a force to be reckoned with, and I reckon I love their groovy sound.
An interesting aside is that Billy Gibbons presided over Jim’s wedding. Kinky Friedman blessed his divorce papers following that same marriage’s dissolution. Oh, and he once drank a beer with Angus Young, who was drinking tea, and one night he discussed Charlie Patton with Robert Plant. Oh, and by the way, he plays guitar and rocks like a *expletive deleted.*
-Michael Buffalo Smith