Sunday, December 9, 2012

CD Review: Don’t Blame the Dynamite… If You Can’t Light the Fuse! - RJ Knapp & Honey Robin

By Eric Steiner 
I first discovered local bluesman RJ “Blues Master” Knapp when his 21st Century Bluzmen competed in the fourth semifinals of the Washington Blues Society’s International Blues Competition at the Oxford Saloon in Snohomish, Washington in 2011.  I was impressed by the way he powered through an original set that tilted heavily toward blues rock, and I could tell that his influences ranged from Led Zepplin and Black Sabbath to Popa Chubby.  RJ’s set featured high energy, plugged-in, and wonderfully over-the-top guitar histrionics thanks to the Blues Master.

If you enjoy full-throttle blues powered by solid electric guitar, you’ll enjoy Don’t Blame the Dynamite… If You Can’t Light the Fuse.  The straight-ahead country blues on “If the Bluz Was Money” relies on the spot-on rock steady beat from the considerably talented engine room of Rick “Dr. Demo” Bowen and “Rob “Powder Monkey” Baker on bass, punctuated by the Blues Master’s fluid slide work.  “Hole in My Heart” gives RJ a chance to stretch with some opening, low-key licks that frame Honey Robin’s sultry vocals, and his inspired noodling up and down the fretboard shows that, as a guitar player, he’s much more than a three-chord power player.  RJ’s been around the Seattle blues scene since the early 80’s, and he’s earned the nickname “Mr. Bluz” by paying his dues in Pioneer Square clubs. RJ’s inventive songwriting and innovative guitar playing are front and center on this CD. 

Since that International Blues Competition at the now-closed Oxford Saloon in downtown Snohomish, RJ and his band have played at the Big Sky Blues Festival in Noxon, Montana, and returned to the Blues to Benefit the Brave benefit held in Snohomish County in 2011 and 2012.  I hope that this CD will get RJ, Honey Robin, Rick, and Rob more attention and more gigs throughout the Pacific Northwest.  Their CD release party was held on December 7th at Cyndy’s Broiler in Stanwood, Washington, and I hope that we can feature the magic of that night in a future Washington Blues Society Bluesletter.

Listen to clips from the CD below. After you check out the 15 (yes, 15!) cuts on the CD, please tell your favorite blues club that this Bothell, Washington-based blues outfit can really put on a show!

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