One of the more prolific blues bands out there have once again
released a new album. "Bullfrog Brown with Steve Lury & Peeter
Piik", is the second release I have received from them this year and I
couldn't be more thrilled.
Sticking to their keep it simple rule, Bullfrog Brown once again
shows why I called this band, "The New Voice And
Sound Of The Old Blues".
For a fair amount of time Bullfrog Brown
is just a two piece show, which is of course superb enough as it is, but on this
album just to add to perfection they have two special guests to help them more
then get the message of the blues across. Joining them for this outing is Steve
Lury, an exceptional Harmonica player, based out of the United Kingdom and
Peeter Piik, a former band member on Bass. Having double the usual personnel,
does not seem to hamper the quality of this Album at all, in fact it adds that
little special treat to the mix.
"Bullfrog Brown with Steve Lury & Peeter Piik" was
a two part production, with half the album done live and half done in the
studio. Originally intended as an EP with the studio half, I am thrilled that
they decided to also include the live show part. This gives the listener a more
then adequate example on how clear, crisp and seamless their live shows are over
their studio work. In fact all that is really missing in the studio is a
audience clapping after every song.
"Bullfrog Brown with Steve Lury & Peeter Piik"
offers us 10 tracks, done only the way Bullfrog Brown can do them, with straight
forward simplicity and eloquence and done in such a manner that you could easily
close your eyes and feel like you are right in the room with them.
Staying true to themselves and their fans, Bullfrog Brown does
not continually try to re-invent themselves, as a long list of other bands do,
they know whom they are and they know what their fan base likes and expects and
with "Bullfrog Brown with Steve Lury & Peeter Piik" they
respectfully continue the tradition which is sky rocketing their popularity
throughout Europe and beyond.
"Bullfrog Brown with Steve Lury & Peeter Piik" is
another thoroughly enjoyable CD, and with the addition of Steve and Peeter, it
may be certainly ranked as one of their best.
Review By John Vermilyea (Blues Underground Network)
We are happy to report that as promised, the new Bullfrog Brown
album - Bullfrog Brown with Steve Lury - has been completed before the holidays
and will be released as scheduled on February 13th, 2009. Unfortunately, myspace
is doing what it was doing when we put out our last CD - i.e. not accepting any
song uploads (the bastards). Therefore, three tracks from the upcoming CD have
been posted for your listening pleasure here: http://www.purevolume.com/bullfrogbrown
In addition to Steve Lury on harmonica, the new CD will feature Peeter Piik of
Rajaajaja and Kiritöö (and along with the rest of Bullfrog Brown, formerly of
Green Bullfrog) on various basses throughout; half the album will be studio,
half live, mixed and mastered this time by Asko-Romé Altsoo. Cover photo by
Mats Õun, design by Siret Roots...
If you’ve got this far you will have realized that the music on this disc is the result of a collaboration between Bullfrog Brown and myself. What follows is the story of how this came about. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…
In January 2006, I joined an online forum dedicated to blues music. Among the regular contributors was a lone voice from Estonia, identified only as “Bukka.” Interested in what sort of blues scene existed in that country, I sent “Bukka” an e-mail. The reply introduced me to Andres Roots and to the music of his band Bullfrog Brown – and well, things haven’t been quite the same since.
I have to admit that, at the time, I was thoroughly disenchanted with the current blues scene; too many noisy plank-spankers wearing Spaghetti Western hats accompanying generic lyrics with re-cycled riffs, so the songs on the CD Andres sent me came as a pleasant surprise: original, sometimes almost surreal lyrics, not always in the 12-bar format but nevertheless anchored solidly in the Delta blues tradition. I wanted to know more.
In December 2006, Bullfrog Brown arrived in the UK for a short tour and I was able to meet Andres, Alar and Üllar, watch their exciting live show, and jam with them in Oliver’s Jazz Bar in Greenwich, South London. We agreed we’d like to do it again, but such is the nature of international collaborations that we were unable to do so until the Augustibluus Festival in Haapsalu in – you guessed it – August 2007.
Now jump to Spring 2008, Andres and Al had parted company with Üllar and recorded the EP “Mother River Delta”. They visited the UK to support the CD launch and we were able to work together on some gigs in London and a live broadcast on Dave Raven’s radio show “Raven ‘N’ The Blues”. The gigs went well (no one threw anything), so we decided to arrange some in Estonia around our scheduled performance at Augustibluus.
It may have been then that Andres suggested doing some recording or perhaps that came later, but everyone agreed it was a good idea, so July 2008 saw us, along with bassist Peeter Piik, in Tartu in the smallest, funkiest studio imaginable where we laid down the five tracks that comprise the studio part of this disc. Initially, the idea had been to record an EP, and for that the studio tracks would have been sufficient, but when we
realized that our gig at the Tartu Club Trehv on July 31st - the only show where Peeter had been able to join us - had been recorded, we decided to add some live songs and produce a full-sized album.
All the songs on this disc have been penned by Andres Roots and I think show the breadth of his imagination. Check out the humour of “Pumpkin Blues”, the optimism contained in “Wicked Grin” and the vivid imagery of “Snake Girl Blues” – no generic blues lyrics here. Andres also provides the superb guitar/ slide guitar work heard throughout the CD. The lyrics are given life by Alar Kriisa, one of the most distinctive voices around today, and one of the most dynamic front men - you have to see this guy work. Providing some bottom to the music and making it swing is the fine bass playing of Peeter Piik. The harp is provided by yours truly.
So, there you have it, the story behind the sounds. I never imagined when I first contacted “Bukka” back in 2006 that things would work out the way they have, but I’m very glad they did. Enjoy this recording.
Steve Lury, Tunbridge Wells, December 2008
More often than not, Bullfrog Brown is associated with the alt.blues scene, but unless you define alt.blues by a distinct lack of 15-minute guitar solos, it is unlikely for this CD to be filed under that category. Almost every time I’ve talked to Steve, we’ve ended up discussing Muddy Waters, & I think that kinda says it – well, that & the fact that we did manage to resist putting out an umpteen-hundredth version of “Hoochie Coochie Man”.
Since Steve has already described our chance meeting on the corner of Blindman’s, I had better say something about the rest of the gentlemen involved, too. Alar & I first started a band together in July 2000, & three rehearsals & two gigs later Peeter joined, staying until spring 2002. Bullfrog Brown was formed a year later, but we kept in touch – Peeter has gigged with us, we have sat in with his band Rajaajaja, he has recorded with Bullfrog & vice versa. With him, though, it’s Peter Green we mostly discuss; with Al, it’s either Johnny Cash or the White Stripes.
Anyway, when Steve agreed to record with us, we jumped up & down a bit, crammed into the studio, went over the tunes once & cut them. Two of the songs are new – “Pumpkin Blues” was written expressly for a Halloween gig but never performed, whereas the lyrics to “Dust In The Groove” appeared only a few days before the session & the only composing involved prior to kicking it off in the studio was the agreement to let the second verse run longer.
“Modern Times” is a reworking of the first Bullfrog Brown promo single; as that 2003 session went horribly wrong but the song has remained a live favourite, we’ve been waiting for a chance to recut it properly. “Blues For Breakfast” was my first real slide piece; composed on a warped-neck acoustic Peeter once gave me, it has been crying for the sort of Chicago-style amplified blues harp Steve is best known for. “Papa Wolf” was a work in progress for almost a decade – Al agrees we have it nailed now.
The show at Trehv that accounts for the live half of this CD could well have been a disaster: we had three hours of sleep, no rehearsals with Peeter, & no
set list. However, it ended up as the best night of them all – to quote the owner of the place: “You boys just played the concert of your lives!”
“Narva Road Breakdown” & “24.00 Hours” are electric improvisations led by Steve’s harmonica – “Exactly 7 hours ‘til 7 o’clock in the morning,” announces Al before the latter takes off, & Narva Road 25A is the location of the club. “Snake Girl Blues” & “Wicked Grin” revisit older Bullfrog material, whereas “Breakfast With Steve” takes us back to track 1, substituting one vocal verse with several choruses of harmonica bliss.
Yet 'fore we go, we must give thanks to those without whom, etc: Raul, Rommy, Riin & Elmar for having us & Raul for opting to record the show anyway; Jaan for his endless patience & great microphones; Asko for wrapping it up in style; Siim, Lehar & Svensson for the wheels & the stories; Halvo for lending Steve his amp & keeping my guitars alive; Siret, Mats & Martin for making us look good. Hugs to sons & sweethearts & 3 cheers for Steve from the rest of us – it has been a privilege!
Andres Roots, Tartu, January 2009
About Bullfrog Brown
"Alar Kriisa, any punk rock blues kid should be able to
appreciate his gruff vocals. He sounds like Leon Redbone piss drunk and fronting
an Alice Cooper cover band and this is a good thing, a very good thing. The
lyrics ramble shamelessly like Dylan, but latter-day Dylan, "Love and
Theft" Dylan, which, again, is a good thing, a very good thing,"
writes Blues In London critic Eric Gebhardt. "Any purist should be able to
appreciate the fantastic guitar playing of the great Andres Roots. /---/ Andres
plays with a soul that feels to be as old as the music he's playing, behind a
rhythm section that reminds me of Tom Waits' "Bone Machine" at
Having first established their musical partnership in 2000 in the Mother River
Delta of the Estonian South, Kriisa and Roots adopted the Bullfrog Brown moniker
in 2003, recruiting Yllar Kart on harmonica. Sharing stages with the likes of
Honeyboy Edwards, Dave Arcari and Black River Bluesman, Bullfrog Brown have
appeared live in Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, the Czech
Republic, England and Scotland. The band's recording career took off with the
2005 album "Snakes and Devils" that continues to receive airplay on
four continents; its follow-up EP "Uncooked" was nominated for the
"Deed of the Year" award in the group's hometown of Tartu and included
as the only post-1971 and non-American recording in the History of Slide Guitar
programme compiled by Radio Melibokus in Germany.
In 2007, Bullfrog Brown became the highest ranking blues band in ubl.com's
Ultimate Band Competition, placing 6th in a 2-year race with thousands of
international pop, rock, and hip-hop bands. Another EP, "Tundra", was
introduced at the Floating Cockroach alt.blues festival in Helsinki, Finland in
September 2007. Parting ways with Kart, Bullfrog Brown returned with
"Mother River Delta", a duo EP launched with four London shows in
April 2008. According to Blues Underground Network editor John Vermilyea,
"with "Mother River Delta", Bullfrog Brown illustrates with
continued consistency that great music doesn't require a lot of bells and
whistles to get the point across..."
Festivals played include: Floating Cockroach alt.blues Festival, Finland
(2007-2008); Puistoblues, Finland (2006); Augustibluus, Estonia (2003, 2008);
Bliuzo Naktys, Lithuania (2005, 2008); Savonsolmu Beach & Blues Party,
Finland (2007); WRA InterContinental Resophonic Guitar Festival, Czech Republic
(2005); Fontaine Festival, Latvia (2008); Kaavi Blues, Finland (2007); Bluza
Krustceles, Latvia (2004); Fiesta de la Guitarra, Estonia (2006); Soodoma Rock,
Estonia (2004); RockTrip, Estonia (2004); Lindalevi, Estonia (2003, 2004, 2006,
2007); Jannen Jamit, Finland (2006); WintFest, Estonia (2003); Supilinna Paevad,
Estonia (2004, 2006).