Washington Blues Society Bluesletter, September, 1999

Reviewed by Julie Powers

Six foot four, dreamy bedroom eyes, voice so smooth and mellow it could melt a young girl's heart. Ah, yes, blues fans, it's Brian Butler! Soulful, sophisticated, spirited - this CD is like eating fresh peach ice cream on a hot and lazy Sunday afternoon - a real treat.

Brian Butler's new CD, Restless Street, has been long awaited. Well, it's here and it is definitely worth the wait. The album's twelve songs, eight of which are originals, are a mixture of traditional blues, finger-picking acoustic, and folk blues, with a touch of swing. Although Brian is not known as a jazz player, there is a hint of jazz sophistication on a few of the songs, which gives the CD a nice balance, and shows off the player's proficiency. The first cut, Animule Hall, (a cleverly written tune about a New Orleans dance hall) is a swingy number featuring Brian's current bassist, Robert Shangrow, playing a mean walking bass, drummer Bob Conger on brushes, and Valerie Rosa singing harmony. Also on this cut is Ron Weinstein, on Hammond B3 organ (who is also featured again on Been There Done That). Too Many Trips is a soulful classic acoustic blues with humorous lyrics (depending upon your perspective) about a woman of the 90's who gets a high-paying job and leaves her husband at home. "We never had much money but we never cared. The rice and beans were rich, like the love we shared. Now it's conference calls, business suits and late night red-eye flights." Hey, turnaround is fairplay, guys. Hellbound Train is a toe-tappin' folk-blues featuring some great harmonies by Nancy Riccio (also on bass) and Cliff Perry (on Dobro). With Stu Herrick on mandolin, this hot little number will get your feet moving. If you're in the mood for something slow, sultry and smoky, Storm Warning (with a bit of an old Crosby, Stills and Nash feel) is a powerful tune that features Nova Devonnie on bass and accordion (which adds a nice touch, varying from the traditional blues sound). In addition to his original tunes, Brian also pulls out an old Big Bill Broonzy tune called Louise and does a good job of recreating the legend's soulful story about the finest woman around (who, of course, is never true, and at one point he even compares her to a rattlesnake). That's the Blues, baby!

Brian does an excellent job of combining acoustic and electric blues, folk and swing into one fine CD. This is a creative work, full of soul. It is tastefully put together with a professional group of musicians who add a touch of magic. Restless Street will definitely be a refreshing addition to any blues enthusiast's collection.

For more information on this CD, or upcoming performances check out Brian's website: [www.brianbutlerblues.com]. Thanks, Brian, for your undeniable talent and your generous contribution to the blues!