2017 – Eric Hughes Music
By Phillip Smith; April 28, 2018
If you’ve listened to live music on Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee within the past seventeen years, there’s a good chance you’ve heard Eric Hughes on stage performing his unique and captivating blend of blues. He took up residency on the historic Official Home of the Blues in 2001, and plays there on a regular basis still today. Meet Me in Memphis, marks his fifth album to date, and is an homage to the city in which he was born and raised. The Eric Hughes Band consists of Eric Hughes on vocals, guitars, harmonica, and percussion, Walter Hughes on guitars, mandolin, lap-steel, Leo Goff on bass guitar, Brian Aylor on drums, Chris Stephenson on keyboards, Art Edmaiston on saxophone, Marc Franklin on trumpet, along with Susan Marshall and Reba Russell on backing vocals.
The nine track album rolls out the gate, ready for business, with “Freight Train of Pain”. This southern rocker comes loaded with scads of blues-soaked harp and ripping guitar riffs. Hearing title track “Meet Me in Memphis” ushers me right to the heart of the Bluff City with a longing for some fine music, tasty barbeque, and a tall glass of sweet tea. With a robust horn accompaniment, chords, and Steve Cropper-like guitar licks, I love how the song gently taps into the soulful sounds of Stax Records.
Hughes has a gift for incorporating the lost art of story-telling into his songs. A captivating tale of outlaw nature is spun in his western ballad “The Day They Hanged the Kid”. Franklin, on trumpet, suavely tops the song with a little Spanish seasoning. With poetic truth, and a shovelful of satire, the troubles of the hipster nation finally get the spotlight in Hughes’ humorously penned “Midtown Blues”. Once pulled in by Aylor’s caffeinated beat and Goff’s funky bassline on “Here Comes the Boogie Man”, there’s no escape from Eric’s magnificent harmonica performance and Walter’s wonderfully ominous guitar licks.
In joyous celebration of one of America’s favorite pastimes, the album closes with “Believe I’m Going Fishing”. I simply adore this song. It’s catchy as hell. In fact, the whole record is that catchy. Meet Me in Memphis is a terrific album, and a splendid delight.
Eric Hughes also appears on Mick Kolassa’s Double Standards album, which I reviewed earlier this year. That recording comes highly recommended as well. Here’s the link to that review.
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