Dexter Allen

Dexter Allen - Live From Ground Zero Blues ClubLive From Ground Zero Blues Club At The Crossroads, Clarksdale, Ms
Pass the Pick Productions

Mississippi native Dexter Allen’s new album Live From the Ground Zero Blues Club is a suburb live recording that highlights Allen’s combustable Stratocaster licks and soulful, muscular vocals. Allen, with his band — bassist Jonah “Lefty” Nelson, drummer John Blackmon, and keyboardist Cedrick Smith — offers an assortment of tunes that ranges from straight-ahead, rock-endued blues to soulful ballads to a funky, and unexpected, cover of Paul McCartney’s “Big Barn Bed,” which, due to Allen’s splendid vocals and fab guitar licks, takes a mediocre McCartney tune and makes it remarkable.

Along with its fine production values — this is simply one of the finest live recordings I’ve heard in quite a while — there are many songs to commend on this album. It kicks off with Allen’s autobiographical “Coming Home to Mississippi” that drenches his recollections of and reflections upon his family in a seriously funky groove that lends the album a warm familiarity.

Another highlight is the slow-tempo “Still Called the Blues” where Allen and Cedrick Smith exchange savory riffs that supply a bluesy musical landscape for Allen’s plea for “men and women, boy and girls” to “not give in” to the overwhelming problems life often offers up. It’s a poignant message wrapped in sublime music that never stoops to mere sentimentality — the product of a mature songwriter and talented musicians in complete control of their craft.

Finally, the album leaves us “Ain’t That A Shame,” (the tune’s original even if the title is not) a rollicking musical workout with Allen again showcasing his godlike, blistering guitar pyrotechnics. At times subtle and then explosive, it’s a fitting conclusion to a terrific live album. Highly Recommended.

Total Time — 1:01:05

Coming Home To Mississippi / Put Your Blues On Me / Tired / Night Time Loving / Hooked / Still Called The Blues / Big Barn Bed / Let It Be Me / Ain’t That A Shame

Reviewed by Randy Murphy