Duke Robillard Band

They Called it Rhythm & Blues

Robillard, his guitar, and band preside over a celebration of classic R&B and blues made up of 18 familiar and obscure numbers aided by heavy-hitting guests.

Instrumentally, he remains a model of brevity and taste. On Jimmy Nolen’s “The Way You Do” and the Joe Liggins oldie “Here I’m Is,” he provides tasty embellishments and sharp accents behind vocalist Chris Cote.

Duke stretches out a bit more on Freddie King’s “Someday After Awhile (You’ll Be Sorry),” and two early Fabulous Thunderbirds tunes – “The Things I Forgot to Do” and “Tell Me Why” – sung by Kim Wilson. For the ’40s feel of “Trouble in Mind,” authoritatively vocalized by Michelle Willson, he plays acoustic. Robillard and Sue Foley revisit Mickey and Sylvia’s “No Good Lover” with Foley’s snarling guitar up front.

John Hammond’s voice and Delta-style guitar dominate Willie “Long Time” Smith’s “Homeless Blues” and Howlin’ Wolf’s “No Place to Go.” Robillard’s six-minute-plus instrumental “Swingin’ for Four Bills” is a ’60s-style jazz organ workout featuring him, Foley, and organist Mike Flanigin atop a shuffle beat. Free from self-conscious re-creation, the album’s loose and unforced feel results in performances brimming with authentic, vibrant old-school spirit.

This article originally appeared in VG’s June 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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