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Willie G: Press

"Just another blues singer didn't quite learn to play the guitar. Just another blues singer singing in your local bar." Willie G confesses on the opening track of his self produced sophomore CD. The modest Texas-born, Oakland-based vocalist is far from the average, however. His warm, breathy baritone voice is commanding as the lyrics of the 13 original songs, and with a friend like Guitar Shorty contributing scorching obbligatos and solos to six of them, Willie doesn't need an instrument to fall back on. His tone and phrasing bring jazz singer Leon Thomas to mind at times, particularly on the vamp of the hard-shuffling Blues Singer when he rips into contranesque yodel, the intensity of the extended yowl matched by Shorty's hammer-on attack.

Not to be confused with Little Willie G., lead singer of the '60s L.S. R&B/Rock band Three Midnighter, this Willie G made his mark in the '90s as a member of guitarist Ronnie Stewart's Bay Area Blues Society Caravan of All-Stars before stepping out on his own in 2000 with a self-produced Christmas CD titled The "Lone Caroler." For" Fresh Cut", he assembled a cast of the San Fransico/Oakland area's best blues and R&B players, including keyboardist Chris Burns and John Turk, rhythm guitarist Tim Landis, bassist Willie Riser, drummers Bobby Cochran and Frank Samuels, harmonica blower Dave Wellhausen (who engineered the sessions), and tenor saxophonist Carl Green (who wrote the meaty horn section charts).

The disc's variety of slow blues, shuffles, and soul grooves, combined with the band's crisp, full-bodied support, compares favorably to Bobby Bland's Malaco recordings. Even if Willie's voice is occasionally too low in the mix, his ability to sell lyrics is evident throughout -- and he sure can write 'em. Love and loss are favorite subjects, though he doesn't limit himself to matters of the heart. His "Stone Crazy" won't be confused with the Buddy Guy blues of the same title. Here, after the horns sound a warning over the ominous feedback of Shorty's guitar chords, Willie directs his attention to the state of war and peace, in the inner city and in the world at large, offering commentary that's biting and timely.
Bay Area soul-jazz blues veteran Willie G has been singing and emoting a fantastic old-styled stage show for nearly forty years. To this day he remains a strong presence on the San Francisco blues scene. Hailing from tiny Hallsville, Texas, Willie possesses an ingratiatingly smooth vocal versatility. From bass to baritone to tenor, his excellent, story telling lyrics are enhanced by his topnotch band, The Sweet Meat Horns. Here the band is highlighted by guest shots from the rambunctious Guitar Shorty, Dave Wellhausen and keyboardist Chris Burns.

Affairs really heat up by the third track. A going back to Texas epiphany entitled "Midnight" is a highlight. The good stuff continues through other solid originals such as "kick the habit," the low key "Missing You," a chillier titled "Find a Doctor," a reflective deep soul "Regrets" and "This Morning." Closing the set is the imposingly muscular proclamation "Back To your Momma"

An extended "We All Get the Blues" a spirited, Sweet Meat star studded "Drifted" (nice sax work from Carl Green) along with the brash, snaring confessional "Guilty" also delivers the goods. As local blues DJ Avotcha cp;prfi;;u describes it, Willie unerringly bring "the best of the country to the city" Sly Stone is smiling somewhere.