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Issue 1089

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Review

Hamilton Loomis: Give It Back (Ham-Bone Records)

Hamilton Loomis CD Cover Pic

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UK release date 05.08.2013

I first came across Texan guitarist and singer Hamilton Loomis by accident a fair few years ago on You Tube. I was impressed by his soulful approach, and how he mixed up the blues with soul and funk, with fine results. An exciting guitarist with a strong voice.

âIf blues, soul, and rock can be said to form a triangle, youâll find Hamilton Loomis right in the center of itâ, said Guitar Player Magazine. I'd agree.

Fast forward to last year and his DVD âLive at the Hubâ which got joint DVD of the year award in my end of year "Bluesville" column in Blues & Soul magazine, (with Lucky Peterson.)

Bringing things right up to date, Hamilton is about to release his eighth album, âGive It Back.â It is a solid, soulful and funky affair where he shows us just what he is made of on guitar, and with his vocal instrument too. Not forgetting his skills as a songwriter either. The man is a triple threat.

He keeps good company; with bass superstar and five times Grammy winner Victor Wooten, guesting on the title track on vocals and a spine tingling bass solo. Tommy Sims also pops up on bass, on the rest of the album. He has played with âem all, including Bruce Springsteen, and is the co-writer of Eric Clapton's "Change the World" 1997 Grammy Song of the Year. British drummer Jamie Little is Hamiltonâs choice for this album, and he does a very fine job as ever. There are some sparkling horn arrangements here; sax player Fabian Hernandez and trumpeter John Ontiveros deserve credit.

Hamilton writes or co-writes 11 of the dozen. His mindset as a writer and as a guitarist seems simple enough: âFind that groove and nail it.â He does that on the up-tempo stuff and indeed on the slower numbers, with ease.

The production by Michael Hodge is spot on, and gives Hamilton and his co-horts a solid platform on which to show off. I canât fault this record really.However, there is nothing here of the dozen songs that has stayed in my brain with an infectious hook, longer than a few minutes. That is not a negative; itâs just my experience of this album. I really liked it and I will continue to play it long after this review has been forgotten about. I have not yet caught him live, and as his UK agent is a good mate of mine, I really should have by now. I will, for sure. Hamilton Loomis is an old hand at touring and playing live. He opened for B.B. King at the prestigious 2012 Belgium R-n-B Festival. His appearance at the festival garnered him high accolades, rave reviews, and provided Hamilton with major European visibility, which enabled him to continue international touring to venues such as the Paradiso in Amsterdam.

Bo Diddley first spotted Hamiltonâs potential and took him under his wing at 16-years-old, and Boâs comments at the time: You got to put some seasoninâ in what youâre doinâ, and this boyâs got the whole salt shaker!â He played in Boâs band and the pair became friends. His advice to young Master Loomis has stayed with him ever since: âInnovate, donât imitate.âOther music legends such as Johnny Copeland, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Joe âGuitarâ Hughes, and Albert Collins also schooled Hamilton in the finer points of music along the way.

His âfunkified Texas musicâ has garnered international rave reviews throughout Australia, Benelux, Europe, the US and has earned him multiple "Best Artist" awards in the UK. He gained a Grammy nomination for his debut album âHamilton,â which featured his mate Bo Diddley. The lasts song Bo ever recorded before he died, was written by Hamilton.

So the kid has been around the block and paid some dues. âGive It Backâ is his philosophy in life and in music. 38-year-old Loomis mentors young guitarists where-ever he can, and encourages them to be the best they can be, never forgetting the start and the help he got from the likes of Bo Diddley. That is a great attitude and will see him go much further in his career, unlike some of the more self-obsessed musical creatures out there. If you like your blues with soul and a little humility, Hamilton Loomis is your man.
Words SIMON REDLEY

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