|There is an expression around the industry that has grown as a tag to recognize the efforts of an individual or institution that endeavors to work hard at “Keeping The Blues Alive.” This expression has been emboldened as an award and a mission of purpose for many in the blues community. Guitarist, Breezy Rodio, now a central figure in the Chicago Blues community, embodies the axiom with everything he does, literally pouring his heart and soul into that prime directive.
Sometimes The Blues Got Me is Breezy’s Delmark Records debut. Breezy was signed by label owner, Bob Koester who has produced legendary blues artists like Junior Wells, Magic Sam, J.B. Hutto and many others. It is appropriate Breezy landed on the same label as Linsey Alexander as their careers have been intertwined for more than a decade. However, Breezy absolutely busts out with this new, exciting and fresh album. Sometimes The Blues Got Me sparkles throughout with clean, crisp guitar lines, masterfully played, and with plush, richly layered arrangements in which the horns evoke the early orchestration of T-Bone Walker and B.B. King.
The album is a 17-track love letter extolling the depths of passion he has for the great American art form. With a live off-the-floor retro vibe the new album features eleven new songs and six inspired covers, delivering over an hour of blues, funk, soul and classic jazz. Breezy is joined by a six-piece horn section and several guest players on the disc who bolster his gritty guitar work and howling vocal. Classic swinging twelve bar first recorded by B.B. King, ‘Don’t Look Now, But I’ve Got the Blues,’ opens the set with a simple yet bold declaration of purpose. Billy Branch guests on greasy harmonica on the straight-ahead shuffle ‘Change My Ways,’ trading licks with the piano of Sumito “Ariyo” Ariyoshi, who appears throughout the set.
Breezy then honors another of the three Kings by covering the slinky blues ‘Wrapped Up In Love Again,’ from Albert King. He then transports us to the 1940’s with a spot-on reading of T-Bone Walker’s certified jump classic, ‘I Walked Away,’ which segues into another B.B. King standard ‘Make Me Blue.’ The influence of his heroes shines through on his own tunes beginning with the autobiographical ‘Let Me tell You What’s Up,’ in which he confesses to being a blues man, for better or worse. This deep addiction is further explained on the title track as he moans “the blues just won’t let me be, Sometimes I got the blues, sometimes the Blues Got Me.” The mellow drama gives way to some good time humor for the flat tire shuffle ‘You Don’t Drink Enough,’ and the ice pick instrumental ‘Cold Breeze In Hell.’ The horn section is featured again on modern grooving ‘Power of the Blues.’
Billy Branch returns on another barrelhouse blues stomp ‘Doctor From The Hood,’ trading vocals on the chorus along with more of that hot blues harp. Breezy pours his heart out and pushes his emotional limits, first on the 40’s torch blues from The Delmore Brothers ‘Blues Stay Away From Me’ and then showing real depth on the delicate jazz ballad ‘Fall In British Colombia’ that features a fluid trumpet solo from Art Davis. Leaving no stone unturned he explores some finger picking country blues on ‘Not Going To Worry.’ The album slips back the now with the edgy funk ‘One Of A Kind’ with its hard-thumped bass and cool organ played by Chicago’s Chris Foreman that meshes with Rodio’s sharp thumb-pulled guitar work that emulates Albert Collins. The album closes with the slow burning ‘Chicago Is Loaded With The Blues,’ once again adding Billy Branch to his quartet to deliver a loving ode to his home town and her magical music that has become his life’s work.
Rick J Bowen
You won’t find many guitarists on Chicago’s world-renowned blues scene who are as busy as Breezy Rodio. Breezy has become a globetrotting ambassador for Chicago blues serving up tough, uncompromising sounds wherever he performs. It was 2011 when Breezy released his first solo blues album Playing My Game Too. In early 2015 Breezy self-released his sophomore blues album So Close To It. It found him in the studio with a host of certified Windy City legends including guitarists Lurrie Bell and Carl Weathersby, harpist Billy Branch and organist Chris Foreman providing spirited backup. The album earned Rodio rave reviews in blues magazines worldwide and plenty of radio airplay making it to the number two spot nationwide in the Chicago Blues category on the Roots Music Report. Breezy has toured South America, Europe, Japan, Mexico and Canada. He has played countless blues festivals and still plays many of Chicago’s local venues.
Breezy Rodio immigrated to the states at an early age, fell in love with the guitar and blues music as a teen, then worked his way to Chicago where veteran Linsey Alexander put Breezy to work after the newcomer landed in Chicago. During his decade-long stay with Linsey, Breezy became bandleader, performed over 300 gigs a year including numerous international tours and recorded on Linsey’s three Delmark albums; Been There Done That (Delmark 822), Come Back Baby (Delmark 838) and Two Cats (851).