Guyger shows his harp skills
Reviewed October 2009
By Steve Guyger
To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.
Blues harmonica fans know all about Philadelphia's Steve Guyger. After a lengthy stint as a sideman with the late bluesman Jimmy Rogers, Guyger has joined Rick Estrin, Kim Wilson, Charlie Musselwhite, Mark Hummel and a few others in the top rank of the blues harpists. His loud, bullet-mic blaring style is not fancy or pretentious, but he has all the riffs down pat and mixes them in with his expressive blues vocals to achieve a variety of blues effects, though he is a specialist in Chicago-style urban blues. He has been featured on many discs and released several solo projects, and his latest is "Radio Blues."
The band is a standard five-piece, featuring guitarist Johnny Moeller (who is the current lead player for the Fabulous Thunderbirds), keyboardist Bill Heid and studio ace bassist Steve Gomes.
The 14 tracks, mostly originals, open up with "Lookie Here,” and Guyger's reverbed voice and slick, short harp statements complement Moeller's striking solo perfectly. "Little Rita" conveys plenty of New Orleans flavor, as Guyger's vocal sounds like Fats Domino and his harp like an accordion. It is back to Chicago for "Blues Won't Let Me Be" and "School is Over," especially the latter, which has a combination of whammy-bar shimmer from Moeller and muffled tremolo by Guyger, calling to mind the late William Clarke.
The rest of the disc offers multiple iterations of traditional blues, including instrumentals, that highlight Guyger's harp versatility and ability as a vocalist, with good support from the band, especially Moeller.
"Radio Blues" is a collection that shows how Steve Guyger got his well-deserved reputation as a premier harp player.
Review by Frank Kocher, a longtime San Diego resident, musician, music collector and frequent contributor to The San Diego Troubadour.