Passport to the Blues

Passport to the Blues

by Duke RobillardDuke Robillard


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There has been no lack of Duke Robillard product on the market; the roots guitarist has recorded approximately ten albums since 2000. But he's been more of an interpreter than songwriter and there haven't been many original compositions on them. That makes this 2010 disc a welcome appearance for fans of the guitarist aching to hear fresh tunes from the Roomful of Blues founder. Perhaps touring as part of Tom Waits' band -- this disc's only cover is a roaring version of Waits' "Make It Rain" -- inspired him, but these songs combine a deep blues sensibility with a sharp band and a raw instrumental attack often lost when Robillard indulges his jazz and jump blues sides. Like Waits, he uses Howlin' Wolf as a model, especially with regard to his flinty vocals, and even titles one track "Rhode Island Red Rooster," an obvious homage to one of Wolf's most recognizable compositions. Robillard won't win any awards for his singing but he's clearly inspired here and gets by on sheer vocal enthusiasm as he spins out this rollicking collection with gruff joy. A few jazzy numbers pepper the set, especially the playful "When You're Old You're Cold," but most of the disc is dedicated to tough, aggressive, swamp-inflected blues-infused tunes. He nicks another page from Waits' early years with the spoken "Duke's Evening Blues" that would have fit well on Waits' Nighthawks at the Diner and references Waits' Rain Dogs period on the Latin-flavored "Hong Kong Suit." Robillard dives deep into slow Chicago blues on the eight-minute guitar showcase of "Grey Sky" and revives "The High Cost of Loving," a track co-written by Doc Pomus and first heard on the guitarist's 1990's Turn It Around, giving it a new lease on life. Current events are run through some choice Chuck Berry riffs on "Text Me" and on the pounding, grinding opener, "Working Hard for My Uncle," that relative named Sam. His tight backing quartet features longtime associate and original Roomful member Doug James on saxes, who adds gutsy blowing to these bluesy romps. A closing bonus jam on "Bradford Boogie" gives the listener a sense of how musically connected the bandmembers are as they feed off each other and just have fun. That camaraderie is ultimately what makes this such a successful entry into Robillard's bulging catalog.

Product Details

Release Date: 08/17/2010
Label: Stony Plain Music
UPC: 0772532134927
catalogNumber: 321349
Rank: 96519


  1. Workin' Hard for My Uncle
  2. Hong Kong Suit
  3. Blues Train
  4. Girl Let Me Tell Ya
  5. Rhode Island Red Rooster
  6. Fatal Heart Attack
  7. Make It Rain
  8. When You're Old You're Cold
  9. Text Me
  10. Duke's Evening Blues
  11. The High Cost of Lovin'
  12. Grey Sky Blues
  13. Bradford Boogie

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Duke Robillard   Primary Artist,Guitar,Vocals
Brad Hallen   Electric Bass,Acoustic Bass
Doug James   Harp,Baritone Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Bruce Bears   Organ,Piano,Electric Piano
Mark Teixeira   Drums

Technical Credits

Duke Robillard   Composer,Producer
Tom Waits   Composer
Basile   Composer
Kathleen Brennan   Composer
John Paul Gauthier   Engineer
Holger Petersen   Executive Producer
Doc Pomus   Composer
Ted Drozdowski   Liner Notes
Jack Gauthier   Management
Joe Rosen   Cover Photo
Ed McConnell   Graphic Design
Laurene Robillard   Composer
Mark Teixeira   Composer

Customer Reviews