July 13, 2024

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CD review: Buenos Diaz – Fox Street Blues – 2024: Video, CD cover

That I finally made a blues rock record after so many years, haha! It was ground zero for me, and it’s the genre of music that touched me the most as a young guitar player. It took me a while to find the confidence to want to make any kind of blues record, because I knew if I fell short, it could easily sound flat. But as I dove in, I think I gave it the attention it needed, digging into studio guitar sounds for the first time, swapping out amps and guitars depending on what each song needed. The making of Fox Street Blues coincided with the birth my studio The Tone Shack too, which allowed me the freedom to explore the songs and genre in depth and at a relaxed pace,- an interview with us said Nick Diaz.

Fox Street is on the east side of inner loop downtown Houston right off Navigation Blvd. It’s a predominately lower-middle class Mexican American neighborhood where my mom grew up in a small modest wooden white house. She used to walk home from school daily and throw rocks at the neighborhood boys who used to harass her.

My grandmother who was a single mother, worked most her life for the Trail Ways bus line as a station custodian to keep food on the table and a roof over her family’s heads. Her husband, my grandfather, left Houston for Chicago looking for work when my mom was 7, but realistically prob left them for another woman in the big city. My mom only met her dad twice, leaving her older brother as
the man of the house who worked every day of his life since he was about 12 to help contribute to the family.

My father left when I was 2, leaving my mom in similar terrain raising three kids in a modest 2 1/2 bedroom house as a single mother who worked split shifts for the local telephone company for over 30 years just so she could juggle school schedules and feeding us. It was tough living a lot of the time, no family vacations, a troubled brother who spent one Christmas in jail, and there was even a period of time where we slept on the floor with no AC just trying to keep cool through the hot and humid Houston summer. Watching my parents argue was a norm whenever my father would randomly show up, sometimes drunk, often leaving about the house a lingering reminder of heartbreak and hard times in a broken home. Being brown and dads leaving at an early age, it happens to a lot of us, and if that’s where you come from you’re lucky if you make it out the other side with any kind of somewhat functional life. These stories are unfortunately the norm and a large part of the American fabric. I found there was nothing else to do, but play my guitar loud, steer any heavy energy into the music, and turn my this story into art, because you could say the blues has been following my family around for quite some time.

I grew up playing the blues in Houston, sneaking into clubs at 17 and sitting in with older local musicians learning what I could from them about this rich musical heritage that hails in a large part from Houston (Albert Collins, Johnny Clyde Copeland, Gatemouth Brown, Billy Gibbons). It’s been a lifelong endeavor, putting a blues album together, and a challenging one, I think more so than anything because the blues has been such a personal part of my life and I wanted it to be as honest as possible.

I’m proud of this album, and the songs I’ve selected, a few covers with some originals, showing both my appreciation for the blues songwriters that came before me while trying to compliment that with where I’ve taken the blues myself as a person and as a songwriter.

Mexican-American singer-guitarist-songwriter and Austin, Texas native Nick Diaz and his band Buenos Diaz offer up a rather uneven slice of blues rock. While he is an adept guitarist, the lyrics and delivery come off much of the time as awkward.

He also provides bass and percussion while being backed by the keyboards of Sam Powell and three alternating drummers. Nick wrote all but one tune. He is experimenting with sounds here and taking chances, but some of his endeavors are misguided. Hopefully his future projects will have better structure along with a more cohesive sound.

The brief intro track “Hope” consists of twiddling guitars, pounding drums, indecipherable voices and feedback. This leads into the charging rock of “Nothing To Lose” that features no guitar soloing. “Let It Go, Let It Out” nicely saunters along with nick laying down some burning guitar licks over Sam Powell’s electric piano. The vocals and lyrics detract from the tasty groove and guitar skills on “Punch Drunk In Love”

He pulls out some fine blues guitar action on the shuffling “Big Hips, Smooth Lips, Wet Kiss”. This is one of his better vocals as his voice can be appealing to the listener. Some good blues-rock guitar salvages the weak lyrics of “The Blues Live In Texas”. The song has an infectious ringing guitar riff and Jeff Olson’s drums are in the pocket. More guitar fireworks on “Bandito Blues”.

Nick breaks out some nasty slide guitar for “I Got The Blues” along with his energetic vocal. The boys answer the question of “Where’s The Funk In The Neighborhood” with thumping bass, driving drums and wah-wah guitar. The vocals are a bit over-shouted, but they fit the vibe. His slide guitar on “Where Do We Go” is very melodic. What self-respecting blues-rocker wouldn’t include a nod to Jimi Hendrix? They do a good interpretation of the music and Nick talk-sings the words. What sounds like keyboard accents are a nice addition.

The songs here are hit-or-miss, but there is no denying Nick’s way around a guitar. It is the saving grace of this album. The drumming and keyboards add strength to the proceedings. You blues-rockers out there should give this a look-see.

“I think all in we spent 4 years working on the album, top to bottom, and for no other reason other than we had the luxury of time on our side to really make it as good as we could, and when the gig schedule got busy, we’d take a break from the recording process. I originally wanted to put a few traditional blues covers on it, but after a conversation with blues ace Mike Zito, he suggested I revisit the recording process with more originals because he enjoyed listening to them more than the covers. Per his suggestion, I went into the song vault, pulled out some old tracks I’d written during my early 2000’s New York days, tore them apart, and re wrote new material (Nothing to Lose, Where’s the Funk in the Neighborhood) based on the drum tracks we’d made at a studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

The band back then was a blues rock project as well and had a lot of youthful energy, so once I dug in, it all came together pretty easily. It was a fun and new approach for me, digging into old material like that, and I’m glad Zito suggested it. And I do still have the blues covers in the vault and will be releasing them later this year as a blues covers EP. Today though, speaking of growth, evolution and change, I’m currently working on a Spanish rock record, a first for me”,- he added about this,- They’re part of the live band, so it was an easy choice. Jeff Olson, a native Austinite and standout drummer, has been in and out of Buenos Diaz for some 11 years. He’s spent time behind the kit for White Denim, David Ramirez, and a number of other fantastic acts. Mark Henne played drums on some tracks as well, has drummed for Black Joe Lewis and currently drums for Alejandro Escovedo. Drummer Matty Amendola was part of the New York band I mentioned before. Sam Powell, is currently touring with country act William Beckmann, rounds it out on keys.

This album is real life stories, real life blues. We recommend that you definitely buy this CD and enjoy it with us.

Buy from here – New CD 2024

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