2019 - Third Street Cigar Records
By Phillip Smith; Nov. 9, 2019
It’s always a pleasure to hear new music from Johnny Rawls. He is indeed one of the best soul-blues musicians around today. I make a point to go hear him whenever he’s in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, performing at Checkers Tavern. His new album, I Miss Otis Clay is downright spectacular. I love it from start to finish. This poignant homage to Rawls’ close friend and Blues Hall of Famer Otis Clay, is an instant favorite for me. Recorded in Toledo, Ohio, the home of Third Street Cigar Records, the album features local blues musicians: guitarist Larry ‘Mr. Entertainment’ Gold, bassist Johnny ‘Hi-Fi’ Newmark, keyboardist ‘Cadillac’ Dan Magers, and drummer Scott Kretzer. Also appearing on the record are The Toledo Horns comprised of Ric Wolkins on trumpet, and Mark Lemie on sax.
The hot buttery soul of “California Shaking Again’ leads off with a funky backbeat, infectious riffs, and sweet blasts of brass. Rawls’ vocals are smooth and suave for this fantastic opening track. Celebrating those contemporaries who have helped keep the art of The Blues alive, he pays an endearing tribute with “Give a Toast to the Blues”. Guaranteed to set the mood for some good loving, Rawls’ soulful, romantic two-fer “Slow Roll It” and “Motion of the Ocean” are comfortably tucked in a cozy blanket of slow-groove.
Title track, “I Miss Otis Clay”, brings a tear to my eye, as I listen to him sing about missing his friend. In 2014, Rawls and Clay released the album Soul Brothers, which won the 2015 Blues Blast Award for Soul Album of the Year. Clay sadly passed away from a heart attack in 2016.
The bar has once again been set for Soul-Blues. I Miss Otis Clay, is my favorite Johnny Rawls album to date.
For more information about the artist, visit this website.. www.johnnyrawlsblues.com
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