Listen Up: Wednesday, August 27, 2003
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Robert Ealey

Blues That Time Forgot (Aristokraft Records)

By Ken Shimamoto

In 1969, guitarist Sumter Bruton joined a band led by singing drummer Robert Ealey and guitarist Johnny B. Searcy. They appeared at Helen’s Sugar Hill in Fort Worth and The Country Inn, the raucous, rough-and-ready roadhouse in Rendon where Bruton’s friend Gene Rackle brought his humble Philips cassette recorder one night to document the proceedings.

Now producers Bruton, his Swingmasters accomplice/Fort Worth Business Press journo Mike Price, and photographer Pete Kendall have released an extremely limited edition of Blues That Time Forgot, a raw, unadorned document of Fort Worth blues at its most low-down. The recording oozes atmosphere — particularly the between-song observations of one inebriated patron who’s obviously sitting near the recorder.

The band had an interesting instrumentation. Bruton played bass on a Guild guitar with the treble turned down. Searcy played guitar with a thumbpick and fingers, chopping rhythmically at the strings when he wasn’t playing single-string lines because he knew no chords. Keyboardist Ralph Owens completed the lineup.

Ealey’s performance proves what a powerful, emotive vocalist he was, rarely breaking into a falsetto or doing his trademark vocal harmonica imitations. He makes up lyrics as he goes along, sometimes cracking up at his own inventions. The arrangements coalesce on the stand, right before your very ears.

Searcy (who died in 1995) shows himself as a storming player, indebted to Frankie Lee Sims and Guitar Slim. When he rips into a solo, he sounds like someone you wouldn’t want to mess with. Bruton plays lead on one cut, showing that even 34 years ago he understood the real shit — no rock-boy affectations here.

Local restaurateur-musician John David Bartlett said it best: “This music makes me want to drink a beer.” Cop from Record Town, 3025 S University Dr, FW, or call 817-926-1331.


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