Listen Up: Wednesday, October 12, 2005
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PHOTOS: 1
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
James Hinkle

Straight Ahead Blues? (Blue Lights)

By Tom Geddie

In the best Fort Worth tradition of music with few borders, James Hinkle’s Straight Ahead Blues? — a collection of old dance-blues numbers plus one original — veers into jazz, R&B, and even early rock (a.k.a. rockabilly). The c.d. is all about the years when electric guitar-based popular music first came to the city. Imagine: people drinking from bottles in brown paper sacks, swaying with one another in the near-dark of some club, and moving swiftly to the occasional boogie.

There’s a reason the songs sound dated, way older than the three recording sessions in Austin and Fort Worth in 2002 and 2003 — they’re supposed to. They were written by men named Peppermint Harris, Frankie Lee Sims, Sonny Thompson, Charlie Parker, and the still-kickin’ Ike Turner.

On various songs, co-producers Mike Buck and Wes Race (co-producer of the first three tracks) balance Hinkle’s barking guitar and gravelly vocals with vibes, sax, keyboards, and percussion, provided by a fine pack of jammers.

The first three songs — “Mammer Jammer,” “Ugly Woman Blues,” and the rocking instrumental “The Rooster,” all recorded in 2002 — come at the listener with a lo-fi country sound that may not even be noticeable until tracks four and five kick in with a type of smooth city cool that could pass for jazz as easily as blues. (The kinship between the two genres is so strong, anyway.)

Hinkle’s own “Watch Yourself” fits seamlessly into the rest of the mix, which teeters on that line between rural- and urban-driven sounds.

The artist grew up in Fort Worth learning the music of Freddie Cisneros, Sumter Bruton, Doyle Bramhall, Robert Ealey, and U.P. Wilson. On Straight Ahead Blues?, Hinkle does them all — and their predecessors — proud. —

Sat at Keys Lounge, 5677 Westcreek Ct, FW. 817-292-8627.


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