More Reviews & Info Coming Soon
Fans of blues music being played the way it was meant to be
played, which is raw and real, have someone new on the scene, album wise, to
look forward to listening to. Guitar Red delivers good old authentic blues in
it's finest, simplest form; one guitar, one clavinet, one bass, and one great old time feel
voice. From the opening track, Box Car No.9 to the closing track, Song About A
Jimi Hendrix Song, "Lightnin' In A Bottle", thanks to Guitar Red's
street wise savvy, delivers a true debut blues masterpiece.
Review by John Vermilyea (Blues Underground Network)
On The Road With Guitar Red
Posted on July 23rd, 2008 by The Blues Blogger
Debut Release Out Now
One of the best parts of being TheBluesBlogger is the info I receive regarding artists I may not be too familiar with. Some of them are real gems, which brings us to Lightnin In a Bottle, the upcoming release from Guitar Red.
I didn’t have the opportunity to take a full listen to GR’s tunes until I hit the road for my family vacation. With the sun slowly rising, TBBW (TheBluesBloggersWife) in the passenger seat and my 12 year old son dozing in the back, the setting for Guitar Red’s music took place. Traveling 70 MPH with the lines on the highway passing by like a wide screen metronome, I started listening and continued to make my way…
just may be the real article. There’s no pretending as he plays his back porch style of blues with a feeling that only someone who has lived life can. Over the years, Red has been underprivileged, hungry and homeless… Born Billy Christian Walls on February 16, 1964, the family left Morristown, New Jersey for Atlanta with the hopes of greener pastures. The outcome was dramatically different than anticipated. Within 10 years Red’s parents, brothers and sisters were all dead. Feeling tired and overwhelmed, he gave up on himself; drugs and alcohol became a major source of comfort… Through it all, the one thing Guitar Red never gave up on was his music…
“One day I woke up and realized it wasn’t so bad being Guitar Red after all,” Red muses. “When you find yourself it is the greatest gift. You just know where you are going.”
The one thing you will find with TheBluesBlogger is that I’m not a traditional music reviewer. I don’t analyze every note and pick things apart. I want the music to wash over me naturally and if things get me tapping, make me smile or if I drift off in thought, then that’s what makes it for me. Red’s work here is raw, but refreshing at the same time.
1. Box Car No. 9
2. Lips Poked Out
3. Ain’t Got Nobody But Myself
4. Three Legged Dog Blues
5. Chain Gang Blues
6. Lightnin’ in a Bottle
8. Out My Mind
9. Decatur Boy Blues
10. I Believe
11. Song About a Jimi Hendrix Song
As I continued on my journey down the road, there were several tunes that caught my ear. Songs such as Decatur Boy Blues, Lips Poked Out and of course the song that leads the rest of the album Box Car Number 9. (You can hear this selection at the top of this post.) Most of the tracks on Lightnin In A Bottle were recorded live at Backspace Records from August-December 2007.
I really enjoy the vibe and groove that Red creates on this album. The selection of tunes shows off Guitar Red’s personality allowing him to play through his hardship in a passionate, playful and witty manner… My son who was dozing in the backseat of the car woke up requesting to hear the track Three Legged Dog Blues again. Of course he rambled on about the three legged dog that he sees at the doggie park in our area. This tune finally gave him a theme song to hear in his head the next time he sees or recalls that poor animal.
Guitar Red is just happy playing his guitar. You can find him on most days in and around the square in Decatur, GA. People who are in the area can listen to Red on the street and enjoy his music free of charge. Fortunately with the release of his new album, others can now get the opportunity to hear his unmistakable sound far and beyond the square.
Good Luck GR! And congratulations to BackSpace Records for having the heart to believe in Guitar Red enough to strike up a deal that has given this artist a roof over his head. This is a great story and one that I’m happy to briefly review on my site.
‘Guitar Red’ cuts debut blues CD
Popular Decatur artist a veteran street musician
by Gale Horton Gay
Popular local musician Guitar Red has released his debut album Light’nin’ In a Bottle. Listen to Red here
On the streets of downtown Decatur, Guitar Red is a familiar fixture to the regulars who travel about Decatur’s square.
He strums his guitar singing songs of women, drinking and hard times in the unvarnished tradition of the blues.
Most mornings he hangs out on E. Court Square—sometimes in front of the Brick Store Pub (the management of which is particularly kind to him, he reports) and frequently plays for hours.
On a good day, he walks away with a pocketful of tips. But not every day is a good day.
On this Monday in late June, he takes his guitar from its black case and begins playing a tune he wrote called Lips Poked Out. Someone passing by shouts “Red” and he calls back “Hey family.” Turns out that someone is an artist he hasn’t seen in a while. “I’m still cranking…still cranking,” he shouts exuberantly. A woman approaches extending a greeting of “Hey there” and a handful of singles.
Guitar Red, whose given name is Billy Christian Walls, has an unpretentious style—showing up this day for this street gig in long baggy shorts, a white T-shirt and blue work shirt and a vibrant blue bandana.
“I love it, playing on the streets, gives me a chance to interact with people. I am on my schedule,” said Red. “When you’re a blues musician you’re not only a street musician, you’re a big brother, psychiatrist, security and a friend.
“Sometime when I play people pass me not smiling, then they come back [and say] I really needed that," he explained. “They might tip me some.”
After 38 years of making music on the street and on the stage, Red is releasing his first album, Light’nin’ in a Bottle. The CD features such songs as Box Car No. 9, Lips Poked Out, Aints Got Nobody but Myself and Decatur Boy Blues.
Asked how the album came about, he related being approached by Ben Rowell, the owner and producer at Backspace Records. Rowell was encouraged by his colleague who heads artist management to check out Red after Rowell remarked that he didn’t think the "real deal" blues musician existed anymore.
“Within the first 30 seconds I realized Red was more of the real thing than a bottle of Coke," states Rowell in an e-mail about his introduction to the blues man. “His songs, though difficult to understand at times, are fresh and traditional all at once. We sat down to chat and he told me about his hardships and life in general.”
According to Red, over the past few decades he cranked out studio work for a long list of well known artists such as Andre “3000” Benjamin of OutKast and was a member of the funk, hip hop and blues band The Positive Force. Many of those associations were predatory, according to Red who said artists would use him for his guitar work and “pay” him with a bottle of liquor.
“It really hurts me when somebody takes my music, it’s like stealing a part of a person” said Red.
Now when he gives street performances, he totes a handful of his CDs which he hopes will leave his possession in exchange for $10 from admirers of his music. Red said he’s hoping to generate enough sales to lift himself out of a “financial situation” that is just a few degrees away from homelessness.
About Guitar Red
Guitar Red (Billy Christian Walls b. 1962) is authentic as it gets. He plays his underground style of blues with the feel and passion that only someone who lives the blues can. Over the years, Red has been underprivileged, hungry and homeless, and that fire comes across in his music, his rants and playful personality. Recorded live (with the exception of a guitar solo and clavinet piece) at Backspace Records August-December 2007, Lightnin’ in a Bottle allows the listener to peek inside the complicated mind of this incredible musician and his constant roller-coaster ride of humor and hurt. On most days Guitar Red can be found in and around the square in Decatur, GA. This is his first album.