|With the release of her debut album, Beware Of My Dog, Carolyn Gaines has revealed herself to be a blues singer of purpose. She is joined by guitarist Fred Clark, Glen Doll on harmonica, organist Rudy Copeland, bassist Del Atkins and drummer Chad Wright with her cousin, tenor-saxophonist Grady Gaines Jr., performing on two numbers. Special guest is the legendary Big Jay McNeely, who plays tenor on three other selections. The recording is engineered and mixed by Bill Dashiell, who worked the same magic on Carl Carlton’s She’s A Bad Mama Jama, produced by the late great Leon Haywood. The album is mastered by Robert Honablue, who was the studio recording engineer on projects by Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, Janis Joplin, Barbra Streisand, Ike & Tina Turner, George Benson, Hubert Laws, Carlos Santana and many other major names.
It is obvious from the beginning of the opener ‘Beware Of My Dog,’ that Carolyn Gaines is both a student of the blues from earlier eras and a singer, who does not copy her predecessors. The tune has a connection to Big Mama Thornton’s & Elvis Presley’s ‘Hound Dog’ and a 1950s blues vibe. However, Ms. Gaines’ voice sounds unlike anyone else. Big Jay McNeely’s short solo, which features his distorted tone, fits the song well. The lowdown one-chord blues ‘I’m Your Cat, Baby’ has Carolyn Gaines displaying a menacing, yet alluring, voice similar to the 1961 ‘Back Door Man’ by Howlin’ Wolf, with its growls and rasps. ‘Stone Out Your Raggly Mind,’ akin to Jimmy Reed’s 1960s hit ‘What You Want Me To Do,’ is an infectious Chicago blues featuring Grady Gaines Jr. on his tenor sax. Listen to how the singer’s bent notes sound as natural as talking. ‘Catch That Train,’ inspired by John Lee Hooker’s 1962 ‘Boom Boom,’ has the vocalist having a call and response with the band during the first section, before it becomes a cooking blues number.
Carolyn Gaines transforms Muddy Waters’ Chess Records ‘I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man’ into ‘Hoochie Coochie Woman,’ modernizing and revising the lyrics into a version that Muddy Waters would have enjoyed. David Junior Kimbrough’s ‘Done Got Old’ is an intense country blues given a fresh new spin, intimate but quietly fiery with its own brand of restrained passion. On the lowdown blues ‘I Want Your Money Honey,’ Carolyn Gaines sounds quite dangerous (a little like Ma Rainey), a bit demanding and exciting, growling up a storm. One knows that she is going to get the money!
The singer’s ‘Mr. Dill Pickle’ (inspired by Blind Boy Fuller’s ‘I Want A Piece Of Your Pie’ from 1939) is good time blues where her lyrics sound topical and contemporary. The performance with Glen Doll’s harmonica has the flavor of a 1930s Chicago blues jam session. ‘Jerry Rice – Busy Man’ is a country blues dedicated to the great football player: inspired by first-class father & son Carey & Lurrie Bell’s style of harmonica & guitar. There are lots of appealing bent notes from Carolyn Gaines along with some fine harmonica playing from Doll. ‘Charlie Mae & Chicago’’ dedicated to her mom Charlie Mae & Buddy Guy has some highly expressive singing. The closer, a remake of the Big Jay McNeely’s hit ‘Something On Your Mind,’ is an excellent revival that features a haunting, catchy bass line of Dale Atkins, along with strong contributions from Ms. Gaines’ vocals – sexy, smooth, passionate in a deep slightly-alluring-updated way – and McNeely blows the roof off his 1959 hit song.
Formerly behind the scenes, Carolyn Gaines shows on Beware Of My Dog that she is ready to take the blues center-stage!
Scott Yanow, jazz and blues journalist/historian
Carolyn Gaines was born into the blues as the daughter of the great guitarist-singer Roy Gaines who was superstar Diana Ross and Billie Holiday’s guitarist. In addition, her uncle is saxophonist Grady Gaines, who worked with many top names including Diana Ross & The Supremes, Gladys Knight, Little Richard and Sam Cooke. “I was born in Houston. Early on my father played me Bessie Smith’s records and that was my introduction to learning about the blues. I always sang to records as a child. I loved Natalie Cole’s ‘Mister Melody,’ Peabo Bryson, Billie Holiday and especially Diana Ross. I loved her music, voice, fashion and style. She was always glamorous and classy, and I wanted to be like her. I practiced singing along to records over and over. I would wait for my father to go to his gigs around 7 and then from seven till midnight I would listen to records from his collection and practice.”
Throughout much of her life, Carolyn Gaines has been a significant part of the blues world. She has taught countless number of children about the blues in her Blues Schools programs, written many articles about the blues greats, interviewed B.B. King, Guitar Shorty, Eric Johnson, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Cyril Neville, Buddy Guy’s guitarist Ric Hall, Sonny Landreth, Robert Cray, her uncle Grady Gaines, and her father Roy Gaines. She has produced performances, worked on publicity and radio promotion, dealt with labels and festivals, and been a spokesperson for the ‘Blues’ music on many levels. Now after many experiences, she is emerging as an important new blues singer.
As a youth, Ms. Gaines sang at some of her father’s club dates along with her brother and sister. However, singing eventually took a back seat to her work in the blues business. After majoring in theatre arts in college, she managed her father’s career starting in the early 1990s. She booked Roy Gaines at blues festivals and clubs, traveling around the world. She hosted, created and produced blues cable television about Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Ike Turner, Roy Gaines, The Jackson 5, Diana Ross and she would always play Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Roy Gaines, and Shemekia Copeland’s music on her radio shows.
More info @ http://www.carolynbluessingergaines.com