East Side Slim
The Bottoms Up Blues Gang – Handle It
Artist Self-released, 2010
The Bottoms Up Blues Gang (or BUBG) has been playing together now for almost 10 years. I still remember one of their very early gigs down in the basement at Blueberry Hill. One of St. Louis' hardest working bands, BUBG plays out a couple hundred nights a year, and not just in St. Louis, either, but throughout the USA. The band was originally a 3-piece (with guest harp player Adam Andrews one of the originally 3), but eventually settled down into a 2-piece outfit comprised of Kari Liston (vocals, kazoo, whistling and percussion) and Jeremy Segel-Moss (guitars and vocals.)
-- The BUBG live music schedule --
It's never a surprise to see other musicians sitting in for the night during their live performances, and it should come as no surprise that this CD, Handle It, is overflowing with guest stars, including: Adam Andrews and Eric McSpadden on harmonicas; Tony Easterly, Sharon Foehner and Bennie Smith on guitars; Joe Meyer and Benet Schaeffer with percussion; Matt Murdick and Nathan Hershey on keys; Joey Glynn, Tom Maloney and Ms. Foehner on various basses; and a brass of horn players – Aurora Nealand, Dawn Weber, Charlie Halloran and Jak Jurzak Usa.
For those of you not familiar with BUBG, they are predominately an acoustic-based act, whose repertoire runs the gamut of American acoustic styles: Piedmont, Bluebird sound, hard Delta, old timey, Dixieland jazz, Tin Pan Alley, folk and whatever else strikes their fancy. Kari and Jeremy keep everything fresh, though, mixing in more modern elements as they see fit, coming up with a sound that is distinctly a BUBG sound. This is the 3rd CD release from BUBG, following South Broadway Blues and 2nd Set.
The Songs: (all songs by Jeremy Segel-Moss unless specified otherwise)
1. South Broadway Blues – (Jeremy Segel-Moss, Kari Liston, Adam Andrews, Johnny Fox)
--A little confusion here, or is it just some catching up…the song South Broadway Blues is found on this CD, while the 1st CD the BUBG released was titled South Broadway Blues, but that CD did not have any songs on it titled South Broadway Blues. Clear as mud? – it doesn’t matter, as this song is a great lead-off cut for “Handle It”. This jaunty tune prominently features trumpet and piano and is a salute to the blues "triangle" of St. Louis – located just to the south of Busch Stadium. Even more so, the song is a salute to the many amazing and influential musicians who have called the clubs located there home.
2. First Of May
--This up-tempo tune would have fit right in to the Tin Pan Alley stylings of the early 20th century, and you can hear Dixieland jazz influences, also. There is guest instrumentation galore on this tune, which includes percussion, piano, soprano sax, trombone and tuba. You just can't go wrong with tuba!
3. New World Blues
--After the first two lighter-sounding tunes, the BUBG darkens the mood a bit here. This one is much rougher sounding, with Segel-Moss playing guitar very percussively. The addition of an upright bass adds to the bottom end of the track, and some very fine harmonica playing swoops in, out and around the proceedings. East Side Slim likes this one more every time he listens to it.
4. More I Get, The Less I Got – (Kari Liston)
--How about that, a downright funky number. Much of that is courtesy of organ player Nathan Hershey who bubbles and gurgles along in fine fashion (check him out with his band the Dogtown Allstars when in St. Louis.) No, this one isn't an acoustic number as such, but it sure sounds great and is a heck of a lot of fun. Dawn Weber hits you with a very cool trumpet solo about midway through, so make sure to stick and listen.
5. Lover Foe
--This is tough track (raw!) with Jeremy taking the vocals and hittin' that guitar! While Kari is the true vocal talent in the BUBG, Jeremy's rougher voice works well in this context.
6. If Only
--This is a haunting, Piedmont-inspired piece, with beautiful acoustic harp work from Adam Andrews. This track is a winner!
7. Show Your Love – (Kari Liston)
--The energy level comes back up with this one, with Kari belting out the vocals and the horns firing it up. Kari exhorts women to stand up and be equals in their relationships with men, to take control of their own lives, to not let the meaning of their lives be solely determined by how well they please a man.
8. Quick Fix For Livin'
--A bit of hard, deep, delta-inspired blues right here, with just vocals, guitar and harp. Mr. Andrews blows the innards out of the harp on this one; nice…
9. Stop Tellin' Me What To Do – (Kari Liston and Jeremy Segel-Moss)
--This tune has a bit of that Chicago Bluebird sound and feel, and features Kari on pucker whistle. This has a good-timey feel and would sound great under a big old tree or around a campfire somewhere.
10. Drown In My Own Tears – (Ray Charles)
--This is indeed the Ray Charles classic, which St. Louis musician Bennie Smith adopted and used as his theme song for many years (we miss you Bennie!) This BUBG take on the tune features Smith on guitar; there's no mistaking the gorgeous sound of Bennie's guitar work. According to information garnered from Jeremy, “we recorded Drown In My Own Tears with Bennie before he died. So far as I know, it was his last studio recording. We did (recorded) a few songs (during the session), but obviously, this was the one closest to our hearts!” The session occurred approximately 4-6 months prior to Bennie’s passing in 2006 (has it been that long already…)
This newest CD from The Bottoms Up Blues Gang – Handle It – is a fine addition to their discography. The duo of Kari and Jeremy continue to grow as musicians, and while they seem like they've been around forever both of them are still very young, especially when considered in blues-age terms. This CD contains a nice mix of song styles (almost always a good thing) and sonically sounds great due to the care taken in recording and production. The BUBG should be rightfully proud of this effort, because it's quite possible that this release could garner them widespread attention. Let's rate this bad boy; I'm setting the STLBluesometer at a rating of 4.00 for "Handle It" from The Bottoms Up Blues Gang. Thanks to Kari, Jeremy and friends for keeping those St. Louis blues alive-and-well and spreading to younger generations!
For more information concerning The Bottoms Up Blues Gang, see the following websites:
Howland - aka
"East Side Slim"