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Johnson City, East Tennessee hometown of Bleu Jackson, singer, songwriter and guitar-player. This has been the starting point of a career in music that has been a model of consistency in terms of staying true to your ideals. It's also an expression of allegiance to the music of the South especially the blues. Here's a guy who does not jump on the bandwagon to join the latest fads. Bleu Jackson is a hard-headed Southerner and proud to be a traditionalist. His blues are anchored in this spirit. Bleu Jackson lives the blues and carries it like a second skin. But he's not stuck in his ways. FEEL THAT THRILL is his latest and third effort for TAXIM and it's his most versatile yet it's also his best. Bleu Jackson's three previous albums, "GONE THIS TIME", "BLUE HIGHWAY" and "TENNESSEE TANGO" were models of deep Delta blues but with slightly different stylistic priorities. While "Gone This Time" and "Tennessee Tango" excelled in heavy-blooded electric delta blues in the trio format somewhat reminiscent of Little Feat, his collaboratve effort with former Commander Cody harp player/singer Billy C. Farlow featured a mostly acoustic and "unplugged" kind of delta blues. FEEL THAT THRILL is all that and more, much more.
bleu jackson
The hot crew that's to be heard on FEEL THAT THRILL is a compact but selected group of players. First of all there's multi-talented guitar-player and producer Fred James, a cornerstone of the album's sound. From the ranks of the still wonderful Amazing Rhythm Aces there's Billy Earheart on piano and Jeff Davis on bass. The anchor of the music is drummer Andy Arrow, a great friend and Fred James regular, who never fails to deliver the goods. Last but not least, there's organ wizard Phil Rugh and saxman Dennis Taylor. Again, James' beloved "Three Little Pigs" studio in Nashville, TN, is the scene of the crime. This must be a place where the musical vibes are flying round the room like pollen on a summer's day to infect the players with inspiration. The results are no less than astounding. So what does FEEL THAT THRILL make so special? First of all, it's the intensity of the music. It's electrifying and sweeps you along . There are new tricks in Bleu Jackson's bag of styles as well. While he's still got this special kind of deep southern groove that almost makes the Southern heat and humidity come through the speakers, there's also midtempo r'n'b ballads and horn-driven southern soul that could have been fashioned by greats like Dan Penn & Spooner Oldham. Some of the compact unplugged duets coming from Bleu & Fred present a team that is truly flying and speaking with one voice. Classic blues licks heard a 1000 times sound fresh all over again . Speaking of Fred James: the man is brilliant throughout. No matter if he provides sharp and cutting Telecaster leads or mean slide licks, the guy's a truly amazing player. A very accomplished musician who seems to live and breathe his kind of music. Of course, we get to hear the kind of swampy grooves of the past but this time everything sounds more round and full. FEEL THAT THRILL sounds just great.

Bleu Jackson is no Shakespeare, of course, but he knows how to penn a cracker of a blues or r'n'b tune or two. Just listen to his new number "Tight Red Dress" where he presents a slowed down Chuck Berry kind of phrasing in front of a midtempo groove that is cool and inspiring, no less. Even Bo Diddley's hilarious "500 % More Man" has found a comfortable niche in this gumbo and serves as a loving nod north in the direction of the Chicago blues masters. But Southerners like Tony Joe White and Johnny Winter are more of an influence in the end, of course. FEEL THAT THRILL - an easy task, indeed.

So a comforting notion becomes a very clear insight when you listen to The Whole of FEEL THAT THRILL: the state of Tennessee is still a treasure trove for great blues and the like!

Bleu Jackson - acoustic guitar, electric guitar, vocals
Fred James - acoustic guitar, electric guitar, Hammond organ
Billy Earheart - electric piano
Phil Rugh - Hammond organ
Dennis Taylor - sax
Jeff Davis - bass
Andy Arrow - drums, percussion