May 29, 2024

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CD review: Billy Hector – Some Day Baby 2019: Video, CD cover

A fixture on the blues-rock scene for decades, Billy Hector is a tasty vocalist/guitarist who seamlessly fuses blues with the sound of the Jersey Shore in an electrifying combination that pleases audiences no matter what their musical preference – something that’s on crystal clear display on this release.

A native of Orange, N.J., and now in his early 60s, Hector picked up his first six-string at age nine and studied jazz guitar and music history at William Patterson University before launching a professional career in which he’s earned living legend honors in the Asbury Park Music Awards after capturing multiple honors for best blues band and best guitarist, a prize he’s also been awarded twice by East Coast Rocker magazine.

Influenced by T-Bone Walker, Freddie King and Roy Buchanan, among others, he’s a master slide player who was a member of The Shots, the 1970s group that became the house band at the Stone Pony after Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes departed on their climb to fame. His background also includes service time in the bands of Hubert Sumlin and Joe Louis Walker, appearances at the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame’s American Music Masters Series, celebrating the music of Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters, and on-screen work in two major movies, Hellhound On My Trail and No Way Out.

Hector’s backed here by David Nunez on keys, a horn section of Tom LaBella and John Martin (saxes) and Steve Jankowski (trumpet and trombone), as well as a revolving lineup of Van Romaine, Rich Monica, Sim Cain, Larry Crockett or Lee Finklestein on percussion and Wilbo Wright, Winston Roye, Erik Boyd, Tim Tindall or Chris Plunkett on bass and guitar appearances by the New Retro Strings, harmonica master Dennis Gruenling, keyboard wizard John Ginty and songwriting partner/vocalist Suzan Lastovica.

A collection of 11 originals and two traditional covers, Hector penned all of the new material here. A rapid-fire guitar and horn staccato run kicks off “Wizard Of Babylon,” which will grab you from the jump. It quickly settles into a medium-paced stop-time shuffle that gives Hector space to show off his instrumental chops before launching into a vocal that describes someone who can’t hide his many flaws.

A military drumbeat opens the blues-rocker “Someday Baby,” which is both searing and funky, as Billy looks forward to the day he’ll no longer have to work like a mule and mop dirty floors, while “Butt Naked And Funk” swings relentlessly as Hector and the band repeatedly drive home the message of the title with a feel that would make James Brown smile.

The slow-blues burner “Hit The Road” recounts a fight with a lady as he decides it’s high time to move on. Up next, the funk returns with “Busy Man,” another number certain to get you out of your chair and up on the dance floor. Billy stretches out on the fretboard for the driving blues-rocker “Moonlight In Her Eyes” before the loping, uptempo instrumental, “Bareback.”

Not to be confused with the Dolly Parton tune with the same title, the original “Jolene” is a Southern rocker built atop a seven-note guitar run. It’s followed back-to-back with the only non-originals in the set — “Alabama Bound,” a hit for Leadbelly in 1940, and “On Your Bond,” recorded in 1930 by Blind Willie Johnson. The former features Gruenling and a duet with Lastovica while the latter is delivered with an acoustic slide feel. The disc concludes with “Whiskey” – a ballad tribute to booze and whisky, the funky Southern rocker “Creeper” and the upbeat duet, “Road To Happiness.”

Available through Amazon, CDBaby and most other major retailers, Some Day Baby is a treat for anyone who likes their blues delivered with an urban feel. Strongly recommended.

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