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Charlie Wood: Lucky

Woodrow Wilkins By

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Memphis has long been a hotbed of music. It was there that an unknown blues singer named Riley King would later become the biggest name in the genre: B.B. King. The city has also been home to Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire, Isaac Hayes, Rufus Thomas and The King: Elvis Presley. A more recent product of the city on the river is Charlie Wood, a vocalist and organist who plays old-school blues.

Wood spent time on the road with blues guitarist Albert King, and has performed on stage or recorded alongside B.B. King, Joey DeFrancesco, Alvin Batiste, Rufus Thomas and Robert Plant, among others.

Though he has recorded in a trio setting, Wood largely goes it alone on Lucky. He plays the Hammond B-3 organ, piano and other keyboard instruments, as well as guitar, bass and drums. Guest musicians include Kirk Smothers on tenor and baritone saxophones, Billy Gibson on harmonica and guest vocal on "Beale Street Blues, and Lucy Hathcote on background vocals.

Nine of the thirteen tracks are Wood originals, including the lively "Never Gonna Stop New Orleans. A funky groove with Smothers on baritone, this track is part tribute to the cultural aspects of The Crescent City as well as an anthem for hope after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city in 2005. The high-energy "What's It Gonna Take? features Wood in a one-man free-for-all, highlighted by a sizzling piano solo.

"Lonely Avenue, one of four covers on the album, exhibits more of Wood's keyboard dexterity, this time on the B-3 organ. His accompaniment is tight, including his background vocals. Hathcote adds background vocals on the title song, a soulful ballad that takes a swipe at people who try to "get ahead when they should consider themselves lucky. With an extra workout on the toms and cymbals, Wood's drumming helps give an otherwise good song some extra punctuation.

Wood adds some guitar effects on "Ear Candy, about people telling you what you want to hear, sugarcoating to take away anything that might offend.

Other tracks worth a mention are "Can't Teach That Stuff, "If It Makes Me a Dollar and the W.C. Handy classic, "Beale Street Blues. Lucky is good, unpretentious blues from start to finish. Wood combines excellent songwriting with versatile musicianship, keeping with the Memphis blues tradition.

Track Listing: Can

Personnel: Charlie Wood: vocals, keyboards, guitar, bass, drums, background vocals; Kirk Smothers: tenor and baritone saxophones (1); Billy Gibson: harmonica, guest vocal (13); Lucy Hathcote: background vocals.

Title: Lucky | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Inside Sounds

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