Listen Up: Wednesday, January 2, 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
Dave Millsap

Nothing But Troubles (self-released)

By Ken Shimamoto

Guitarist-vocalist Dave Millsap paid his dues backing Delbert McClinton and Bobby Whitlock (remember Derek and the Dominos?). Since then, Millsap’s holiday-time Fort Worth Guitar Army extravaganzas have become a perennial favorite among the city’s six-string cognoscenti, and a recent Stagecoach Ballroom appearance with Cowtown blues legend Ray Sharpe — who plays lead on his own “Linda Lu” on Millsap’s new disc, Nothing But Troubles — was a big success. Millsap now gets to showcase his considerable instrumental skill and workmanlike guitarist’s voice on this self-released gem.

Millsap breaks the clean-toned Fort Worth blues guitarist mold by employing a number of devices— including (gasp!) wah-wah on one number — to color his always-precise fretwork. The backing musicians include heavyweights like ex-Juke Jumpers bassist Jim Milan, one-time U.P. Wilson and current James Hinkle/Johnny Red drummer Gunzy Trevino, and W.C. Clark mainstay Kaz Kazanoff on reeds, often multitracked to simulate a solid little section. The sterling keyboard work, handled alternately by Nick Connolly and Lewis Stevens, is particularly noteworthy.

“No Time (For Fussing & Fighting)” has a double-tracked Millsap singing the kind of vocal harmonies that Bobby Counts and Jerry Clark occasionally bust out. The surprising title tune sounds like something from the Bad Company songbook and boasts snaky slide courtesy of Stephen Bruton, whose jazzier brother and fellow Guitar Army veteran Sumter plays on another track. The countryish “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” could easily be a hit for Millsap’s homeboy and former employer Delbert, while the instrumental “Juarez” evokes the spirit of Ennio Morricone. “The Killing Song,” with its layers of acoustic slide guitars, ends things on a somewhat disturbing note.

Compared to other recent debut discs by local bluesmen, this one lacks the mania of Robin Sylar’s and the sly hipster cool of Mitch Palmer’s, but it’s still strong and varied blues-drenched guitar music.


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