Saturday, March 5, 2022 #545 > Buckmiller Schwager - To Memphis and Back

2021 – Buckmiller Schwager

By Phillip Smith; Mar. 5, 2022

Original source :


Together Tom Buckmiller and Brian Schwager are taking the Iowa blues scene by storm with their original working-man blues.  This Des Moines, Iowa – based blues duo pulled down first place in the 2021 Iowa Blues Challenge Solo/Duo category, securing their entry into the 2022 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee coming up in May.  Buckmiller has authored three blues books and teaches a class on the Blues at Drake University.  Schwager, lead guitarist and multi-instrumentalist, has a list of influences which reads like my record collection, naming guitar legends such as BB King, Jimmy Page , Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.  He has shared the stage with acts Blake Shelton, Thomas Rhett and Eli Young Band.  To Memphis and Back maintains a high level of excellence both lyrically and performance-wise on all ten songs.

A big dose of swampy slide blues leads the record in on “Whisky Man” before becoming electrified, Texas-style.  Buckmiller’s vocals take charge as Schwager absolutely rips it up.  “Thrill of the Thrill” intensifies the pace, and steps it up a notch, making for a barn-burner of a song.  A lush bluesy groove rolls in and hangs tight on “Tylenol and Templeton”.  This salute to hair-of-the-dog remedies proudly displays its Iowa roots with the mention of Templeton Rye.  Templeton was a total whisky game-changer in the state, touting a recipe that originated during the prohibition era and was supposedly enjoyed by Al Capone.  Topped off with horns and a hip soulful rhythm, “These Are the Good Days” catches me off guard in a very good kind of way.  The Velvet Underground vibe is absolutely delightful.  The album closes out with “Time To Come Home (Memphis Mix)” which absolutely cooks.  Heavy doses of resonator guitar, and hard-driving, George Thorogood-friendly riffs bring this one to a boil. It’s plumb terrific.

“To Memphis and Back” is a solid-as-hell album, and I certainly look forward to hearing more from Buckmiller Schwager in the future.  



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Available on Bandcamp

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