Blues Underground Network
Barry Big B Brenner "Old School Blues"
They call Barry Big B Brenner "Mr. Blues, Rags & Stomps", and for good reason. He knows what style of Blues he loves and what style of Blues others love to hear him perform, and that is the Real Country Folk Blues. It is the kind of Blues that has oozed throughout the American Landscape for many many years, like black gold to Texas. You will find this Style of Blues in many regions from the Mississippi Delta to the Louisiana Bayou, from the Piedmont Seaboard right up to Brenner's birthplace and stompin' grounds, Chicago's South Side. Self taught as a singer and guitarist, Barry Big B Brenner brings his love of the Blues, as well his equally amazing talent as a Folk Singer, to the forefront on his latest project, "Old School Blues".
The cover of "Old School Blues" pictures Barry Big B Brenner in a class room sitting on a teachers desk, with a guitar in hand. An appropriate scene for sure, for Barry Big B Brenner is not only about the playing of his music, but also about instilling a sense of history and tradition into each of his shows. He accomplishes that not only via the songs he sings, but also by the instruments he chooses for his performances, which are a 6-String, 12-String & 2 National Resonator Guitars. You can view a picture of Barry and his guitars here... http://home.roadrunner.com/~bluesriff/Resources/newcombk.jpeg .
"Old School Blues" consists of 11 tracks, of which 3 are Originals, 2 written solely by Barry Big B Brenner and 1 by his eldest son, Benjamin "Swamp Donkey" Brenner. Barry is the only performer on this Album which brings forth a wonderful feeling of purity between him and his audience. The Album was cut Live, with just a little layering, as needed, and is a pretty close representation of what you would expect to hear at one of his Live performances. When it comes to good old blues, Brenner' could have not chosen to much better of a collection of Artists to page homage to on "Old School Blues", which included Covers of Leadbelly, Tampa Red, Little Hat Jones, Mississippi John Hurt, Lil' Son Jackson, Blind Boy Fuller, Blind Blake, and Elmore James songs. A wonderful representation of Old School Blues, for sure.
When it comes to playing the Old Style Country Blues, a few things are imperative, first of all you need a great set of vocal chords on you to make that end of it realistic, and you really really must be a master of the the old "finger-style, bottleneck slide, and ragtime guitar picking ". With 30+ years of experience under his belt, Barry Big B Brenner meets both those criteria to perfection. All those great styles of guitar picking are represented throughout "Old School Blues" and really take you back to that great era of the Blues. The icing on the cake is of course the use of different guitars throughout.
Of the 3 Original Tracks, one of my favorites was "Silver Street Blues", the one written by his son, which is about the Under-The-Hill crowd down in Natchez, Mississippi. According to an article on For Natchez.com, "Natchez Under-the-Hill, is the oldest settlement on the Mississippi River. It was established by French colonists, in the early 1700s and pre-dates Natchez On-Top-of-the-Hill by decades." "Silver Street Blues" is a really fine tune and shows off Brenner's talent as a great storyteller. His son Ben "wrote that song from 1st hand experience while living down in Natchez and doing volunteer work saving the antebellum SLAVE COURTHOUSE documents BEFORE they disintegrated and were lost to age and neglect ". Following "Silver Street Blues" is a very appropriate little :59 second instrumental titled, "Grand Canyon Mules". Of the Covers on this Album,one of my favorites was Track 2, "Denver Blues", a Tampa Red instrumental, which really shows off Brenner's Finger Picking.
All in all "Old School Blues" is a great way to lull away a lazy afternoon, with music that makes you feel like you are on a old back porch way down South listening to one of the great old timers entertaining the appreciative crowd.
Barry Big B Brenner's style and delivery reminds me a lot of another great guitarist I also immensely enjoy listening to, and that is Tim Williams (http://www.cayusemusic.com/Cayuse_Music/Tim_Williams___Cayuse_Music.html ). With their collection of fabulous guitars, they both bring the past forward, to entertain and educate the young, the old, and all ages in between.
"Old School Blues" is a must have Album for any lover of Old Time Country Blues. Highly Recommended and Thoroughly Enjoyed.
Review by John Vermilyea (Blues Underground Network)
1. You Don't Know My Mind 4:08
2. Denver Blues 4:29
3. Bye Bye Baby Blues 3:43
4. Spike Driver Blues 4:12
5. Cat Pause 3:48
6. Mister Ticket Agent 3:03
7. Step It Up and Go 2:38
8. Silver Street Blues 4:18
9. Grand Canyon Mules 0:59
10. Hard Pushin' Papa 3:00
11. I'm Worried 2:04
Listen To Samples Here...