Icicles On My Ceiling: JR Clark Band Releases New CD
If you’ve been following the blues scene anywhere from Kalamazoo to the greater Michiana area, you’ve almost surely encountered the blistering guitar and high-energy stylings of JR Clark and his band. Specializing in slide guitar, JR has been delighting audiences over the past twenty years, bringing a unique style of performance heavily influenced by his long relationship with “Little Ed” Williams, of Little Ed and the Blues Imperials. His respect and admiration for many of the greats of the blues, including Luther Allison, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, and B.B., Albert, and Freddy King is also clearly evident. JR and his bandmates, Denny Love on bass, Timson Taliaferro on drums, and Willie Phipps on keyboards, introduced his most recent CD, “Icicles On My Ceiling”, in a special performance on April 7, 2012 at Kalamazoo’s 411 Club. He treated the crowd to introductions of the songs, all originals written by JR, from the CD, as well as a variety of other numbers, as part of a full and satisfying evening of the blues.
The ten songs on the new CD make it clear that the JR Clark Band is a force to be reckoned with. Title track “Icicles On My Ceiling” is a medium-tempo tune with a beat that drives you to the corner of J.B. Hutto Avenue and Thorogood Thruway, never disappointing along the way, while “Tribute To The Boogie” takes you on a stylistic tour past the homes of two of JR’s inspirations, the Texas funk of Freddie King and the elemental blues of John Lee Hooker. By contrast, “The Day You Walked Out On Me” is a slow burner that brings home the true feeling of the blues, evoking all the universal pain of loss and regret. And on “I Can’t Have It”, JR effortlessly demonstrates his mastery of mentor Little Ed’s distinctive slide style. Willie Phipps’ keyboard work is outstanding throughout, and the rythym section of Love and Taliaferro is spot-on.
“This CD is a coming home for me,” says JR on the liner notes for the new album. “I wanted to pay tribute to tradition and honor some of the blues legends who have been such a great influence on me.” On “Icicles On My Ceiling”, JR hits the mark. If you like your blues solid and powerful, you’ll enjoy this latest release from the JR Clark Band.