|Kansas City, much like New Orleans, has a unique distinction of being a melting pot and a swingin’ capital of jazz and blues musical styles that played no small part in influencing what would become R&B and rock ‘n’ roll in the 1950s. Guitar man, Mike Bourne, has spent time in other cities of music, Chicago and Atlanta, but makes the Missouri border city his home and plays his own version of what is known as Kansas City Blues.
In tribute to the players who mentored him and the late nights in the sweaty clubs of the famous 18th and Vine district, he recorded Cruisin’ Kansas City. Joining Bourne for the 13-song set are members of his band, Kansas City Boogie, and a collection of friends and special guests – guitarist Johnny Burgin, keyboardists Dave Creighton and Johnny Iguana, Big D Erickson (R.I.P.), Mickey Munoz from the Hoodoo Brothers, John Paul Drum, and Greg Hopkins, trumpeter with the Buddy Rich Orchestra.
The bopping instrumental title track opener sets the table for what is to come with Bourne leading with a Kansas City Swing riff on guitar and the band calling back in response. Patrick Recob lays down the big walking bass, while drummer Adam Hagerman pumps the flat tire shuffle for Bourne’s blues parable “Lose Your Rings, Keep Your Fingers.” He tips his hat to Buddy Guy and Booker T on the funky nursery rhyme boogaloo “Humpty Dumpty.” The loping shuffle, “Golden Rule,” features greasy blues harp from John Paul Drum and slinky slide guitar work. Bourne puts out the good vibes on the Jerry Garcia styled jam, “Help Somebody,” complete with a fun takin’ it to church outro. “Hollow Man” takes cues from Muddy Waters and Jimmy Reed for a stomping two beat Chicago Blues with roots in field hollers and church songs.
Bourne reflects on his place in this world declaring he is “Too Young To Be Old,” as he rolls down route 101 bringing this Chicago groove back to KC. Hopkins helps Bourne blow down the walls of Jericho on “Loose With The Truth.” Honky Tonk blues “Missouri Boy” is a chicken pickin’ celebration of downhome roots. Hard driving double shuffle “Running Song” has Bourne wondering why he’s in the rat race. The legacy of music from Kansas City also includes the rise of the tenor saxophone, which Bourne honors by featuring Sam Treinen on the classic R&B ballad, “The One,” with its sentimental tone transporting us back to the ballroom dances of the 1950’s. Bourne delivers an icy guitar lead on the modern swamp blues groover, “Dangerous Game,” with a bit of a Stones’ feel.
The final track “Kansas City Grease,” is an excerpt from sessions with Chicago players and honors two who have fallen, blues harp man Davin “Big D” Erickson and drummer Robert W. “Bob” Lorenz, both taken too soon. Their passionate performances lives on.
Rick J Bowen
From the House of Blues to the International Jazz and Blues Festival in Manila and countless points in between, Mike Bourne has been entertaining audiences around the globe with his unique style of jump blues, blues, and roots music since 1998. Inspired by Louis Jordan, T-bone Walker, and many others, Bourne first picked up the guitar at age 22, and began playing professionally at age 25. He has recorded and performed with legends of the genre, including Otis Rush, Sam Lay, Barrelhouse Chuck and more. After long stints in Chicago and Atlanta, he’s back home in Kansas City. Having joined forces with high-caliber band members, their high-energy shows have the town buzzing. His new album, Cruisin’ Kansas City, honors the Kansas City blues tradition started on 18th and Vine with thirteen exciting new songs and grooves.