Ace Texas guitarist U.P. Wilson had some ups and downs in 1999. One of U.P.'s biggest ups was the re-release of his great 1988 album On My Way. His biggest down was spending the first month of the year behind bars. Wilson was arrested in May 1998 for possession of crack cocaine and served a six-month sentence at John R. Lindsey State Jail in Texas.
Hopefully Wilson has cleaned up his act, because he's an uncommon blues talent. On My Way is an excellent collection of fiery Texas blues featuring the leader's raucous guitar, a funky horn section, and some driving original tunes.
Wilson was a legend on the Dallas-Fort Worth blues scene when PeeWee records owner Eddie Stout convinced him to record On My Way in 1988. A bigger seller in Europe than the States, the album made Wilson a fixture on the European blues circuit and led to a recording contract with London's JSP Records. Moreover, it allowed Wilson to quit his job as janitor.
Listening to the first cut "U.P. Express", it's easy to comprehend why Stevie Ray Vaughan cited U.P. Wilson as one of his major influences. Wilson's brand of blues bridges the gap between the swinging Texas style of T-Bone Walker and the louder, more rock-oriented approach popularized by Vaughan.
Wilson's music is loose, rhythmic and funky. His voice is remindful of Johnny "Guitar" Watson's, and his axe-work is raw and highly distinctive. The incendiary shuffle "Como Station" and the jumpin' "U.P. Express" are classic blues instrumentals, and the vocal tracks are almost as great. Fedora has augmented the original 10 tracks with two excellent live cuts recorded with harmonicat Paul Orta and his top-notch band.
Hopefully the 64-year-old U.P. Wilson can stay out of trouble and re-commit himself to the blues. The man sure enough plays a hellish guitar.