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Issue 1088

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Review

Hans Theessink and Terry Evans: Delta Time (Blue Groove)

Hans Theessink and Terry Evans CD

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UK release date 17.09.2012

Good Evans...Today is THE(essink) day. Monday 17th September 2012. The day you can get your hands on one of the very best albums of this year. Dutch blues artist Hans Theessink and US gospel-soul artist Terry Evans have joined forces to deliver a mighty good listen on all 13 tracks of "Delta Time." Since my mate the PR supremo told me "Simon, you are gonna love this one," and sent it to me a good few weeks ago now, it has hardly been off my CD player.

Ry Cooder guests with his trademark slinky slide guitar skills and unique sound, and while he adds great value of course, the CD does not in any way rely on this famous name to prop it up. It stands up on its own two feet with style and sheer class.

The material is worthy of two huge talents such as Theessink and Evans, who co-produced the album, but the vocals here are way beyond good. I speak not just of Mr T and Mr E. The master stroke was in getting Terryâs mates Willie Greene Jr and Arnold McCuller to join in the fun and add their vocal chops. All I can say is; Wow. If you love gospel-drenched blues and close harmonies, you will be in absolute heaven here.

Theessink has dedicated his entire four-decade career to American blues and roots music. Based in Vienna, he is in demand on the European blues circuit and for main stage festival appearances. I saw and photographed him at the Village Pump festival in Trowbridge a few years back, when I was there with my old pal Adrian Byron Burns and jazz legend Jim Mullen. Hans blew the roof off the marquee with his virtuoso acoustic guitar playing and authentic blues roots vocals.

But this CD moves way forward from then and his solo work, huge chemistry between the two; a perfect fit. Terry Evans is from Mississippi, in the heart of the Delta, where he was in the church choir as a young tenor, baritone and bass. Away from gospel, Terry secretly listened to blues greats like Elmore James, Little Walter, Albert King and B.B. King. It was then that he decided he wanted be a soul singer.

In the sixties, he worked with an a cappella group called The Knights, touring throughout the South in clubs, and from there he was lured to the West coast where he first picked up the guitar, started writing music and became a prolific songwriter. Pops Staples as well as the late, great Louis Jordan among others, have recorded his songs.
Long before Terry made his first recording fronting his own band, music fans were probably well acquainted with his voice. For years, he was one of L.Aâs top session vocalists, receiving a gold record for his work on John Fogarty's "Eye of the Zombie" and recording with Ry Cooder, Joan Armatrading, John Lee Hooker, Boz Scaggs, Maria Muldaur, Pops Staples, and many other respected artists.

He teamed up with singer Bobby King in the early seventies; they toured as a duo, appearing at many top clubs and festivals. In 1976 when Ry Cooder was looking for background singers, Bobby King recommended Terry. Their distinctive voices became a feature of several of Ry's critically acclaimed albums, including "Chicken Skin Music," "Get Rhythm," "Show Time," and "Slide Area." Bobby and Terry were still touring as a duo during this time. Terry sang lead vocal on "Down in Mississippi" on the "Crossroads" movie soundtrack album, with Ry singing the title song. In the film, Terry sings the title song.

Terry toured with Ry Cooder throughout the U.S., Europe and Japan and credits Ry for being a great inspiration in his musical efforts since being in California. In addition to his work with other artists, Terry recorded two albums with Bobby King, as well as nine of his own. Ry Cooder has said that he always thought that Terry Evans made a better "front man." Terry is hailed as one of the most dynamic soul and blues singers performing today, writing and singing about all aspects of human emotion, and creating a connection with his audience in the process

Hans Theessink has more than 40 years experience of touring and 25 albums to his credit. Bo Diddley once sad Hans Theessink was âone helluva guitar player.â His slide and finger-picking virtuosity keeps him in demand globally - he plays an average of 250 concerts a year and is rarely off the road. A true troubadour.

âDelta Time,â was recorded in L.A. a stripped down affair that leaves wide spaces for their emotion-fuelled expressive voices and instruments. The album really is one of those rare times when you cannot find a dodgy track and you will be hard pushed to choose a favourite; a different one rising to the surface on each listen.

Terry contributed electric guitar and vocals, Hans provided vocals, acoustic guitars, mandolin, banjo, harmonica and âfootstomper,â (that's his bare foot stamping out the beat on a wooden floor.) Ry Cooder appears on three tracks on guitar. Terry, Willie and Arnold sing backing vox on five tracks.

A real joy is track five; âThe Birds And The Bees.â Terry sang on this huge international hit for The Turnarounds circa 50 years ago. One of the greatest EVER soul singers was James Carr (ties with O.V.Wright for me), and his hit âPouring Water On a Drowninâ Man,â gets the Theessink/Evans treatment here, with some beautiful vocal harmonies.

The pair cut a previous album together, âVisions,â in 2009, which was nominated in the Blues Music Awards in Memphis, (used to be known as the WC Handy Awards) for âBest Acoustic Album Of The Year.â Iâll bet ya this one will pick up a gong or two next year, and it sure does deserve to. Glorious or should I say, âa belter from the Delta.â Maybe we'll stick to "glorious!"
Words SIMON REDLEY

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