New Release

(Memphis Newspaper / Jan 31, 2004)

Willie Lomax Blues Revue: Best Blues Money Can Buy (Big Boss Records)

      It’s not uncommon for national blues acts to pull from Memphis when they need the soul-blues vibe. None is so devoted a disciple, however, as Tampa, Fla. – based guitarist/singer Willie Lomax, who isn’t content just being inspired by local institutions Stax and Hi; he comes here to make his albums as well.
His latest, Best Blues Money Can Buy, is also his finest, a modern – day triumph that finds its groove in all things timeless.

      In a return session at Willie Mitchell’s famed Royal Recording studio, where Al Green and others made history, the album employs Hi Rhythm Section legends Leroy Hodges on bass and drummer Howard Grimes plus Bluff City horn pros Jim Spake and Scott Thompson. Guitar guest Eric Gales also shows up to trade licks with Lomax on the tune “Lighten’ Up.” Additional clout come from Sly & the Family Stone sax man Jerry Martini, session drumming great Walfredo Reyes, Jr. (Santana) and Lomax’s own hot keyboardist Shawn Brown.

      The results smoke, especially since the musicians and history-steeped environs push Lomax to the heights of his guitar playing and singing. And he came equipped with his strongest batch of songs yet, shining on such tracks as “Ransacked” and two 9/11-inspired numbers, the powerful, nearly 10-minute ballad “When the Lights Go Out” and the funk-blues instrumental “Freedom Is Not Free.”

      Willie Lomax plays Pat O’Brien’s on Beale 10 tonight and 3 p.m. Sunday, the latter for a Blues Foundation benefit.

3 1/2 Stars
Bill Ellis


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