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Ken TuckerBIOS/Review by

Sometimes it takes a little digging to find great musicians in your own backyard. We all can name a handful of great local acts regardless of where we hail from, but for every talented musician or band that plays at the local tavern each weekend, there's just as many amazing players who aren't satisfied performing cover tunes every Friday and Saturday night.

I say this because I had never heard of Ken Tucker before the Benevolent Blues label shipped me his 2010 release, Juke Joint Serenade, and upon further research, I discovered that Tucker claims Sullivan, Indiana as his home. That's a not to distant drive from here, and I'm glad to have been turned on to such a talented "local" musician.

Tucker has played with a diverse group of musicians ranging in styles from Blues to Contemporary Chrsitian to Folk. In addition, he fronts his own band, and plays both regionally and internationally. Ken Tucker teamed with the folks at Benevolent to press his new album, and the pairing is serving both parties well, as the CD is being picked up by radio stations everywhere, and is helping to garner fans for Ken Tucker wherever the music is spun.

The album is straight ahead Blues-Rock, with Tucker handling lead guitar and vocals on all of Juke Joint Serenade's dozen songs. Tucker also wrote or co-wrote every song on the CD. "Brother Whiskey" starts the set, with what is arguably the best of the bunch right off the bat. This song is a monster, both sonically and lyrically. It's well written and well played, and in my opinion, it's the standout track from Juke Joint Serenade. Tucker and company put their best foot forward on Juke Joint Serenade, and continue that strong effort with "One Stop Man." Tim Bushong handles both bass and drums on Juke Joint Serenade (obviously not at the same time) and gives a new meaning to the bass player and drummer "sharing one brain."

"Let It Slide" is aptly named. The song features Jack "Spooky Foot" Evans on slide guitar. It's a cool tune in the tradition of John Lee Hooker's "House Rent Boogie," Keb' Mo' Mo's "Soon As I Get Paid," and other similar tunes about putting off those debts until things get better. "Desperately Need" provides a glimpse of Ken Tucker's Folk music influences, both lyrically and in it's arrangement. A lot of guitar strumming as opposed to licks here. It fits the arrangement very well. Guitarheads don't worry, though, Tucker does lay down a solo. Mike Reid's organ is a fantastic addition on the tune.

"Coal Shed" is another standout track, featuring some scorching guitar and great lyrics. Juke Joint Serenade's longest number, "Highway 61," is a slow-burner with lots of licks from Ken Tucker. "Worst I Ever Felt" is a great little duet with Kelly Adams with some terrific slide guitar playing.

Ken Tucker's songwriting covers several of the traditional Blues topics: bad luck and trouble, women and whiskey, etc. Songs like "Desperately Need," and "Island of Lost Souls" are deeper as far as their lyrical content. "Killer's Mind" is less like Lightnin' Hopkins' "Bring Me My Shotgun," and more like an episode of Criminal Minds. It is probably the best example of Tucker's Folk influences. "Island of Lost Souls" is a rocker that tells the tale of being washed up on the Devil's work farm "Where the sky is black and evil, and the water tastes like coal." An interesting tune done well by Tucker and company.

Ken Tucker and his band do a great job exploring the Blues-Rock landscape on Juke Joint Serenade, and creating a good album filled with tasty guitar and lyrical highlights. Thanks to the record label for getting this album into my hands.