“The bank today turned down my loan / they say money’s too tight.” Now that’s a way to start an album these days. On their latest, the Washboard Chaz Blues Trio gives us more reasons to blame the banks: who wouldn’t bet on this trio?
The album features a balanced mix of originals and covers. Little Walter’s “Just Your Fool” is a wise choice for the band, while the cover of Mississippi John Hurt’s “Louis Collins” wraps accordion and washboard around St. Louis Slim’s dead-on guitar picking with a warm precision that does the creator justice.
The originals offer some variety within the band’s near-seamless unity. “Pick Yourself Up” features Andy J. Forest on vocals, with backing that echoes contemporary downtown’s foreboding carny aesthetic. Same, in a way, for Slim’s turn on “Thank the Lord.” This minor-key busking is what you hear in the Quarter and below today, and it fits nicely into this collection with Chaz’s brighter, more Taj Mahal-influenced blues.
“Fire Once Again” is a great report on a blaze, with each instrumentalist’s talents weaving the tale. One cannot say enough about Forest’s harmonica, Slim’s slide guitar, or Chaz’s inventive washboard, but, most of all, how they’ve made the sum into a sound.
Do we need more versions of “I’ll Fly Away?” Well, people keep dying, or at least threatening to, and Chaz leaves it poignant—no joyous ruckus, just gentle promise. This band has a talent for keeping within themselves and their songs while absolutely swinging, producing a sound authentic to themselves, their influences, and to the streets.