by Jan Sikes
From the first time I met Guthrie at a songwriter swap, I fell in love with the raw honesty of his music. Throughout his career, he’s opened for numerous national touring acts. He’s deeply immersed in Delta Blues and funk music, and “Riverside” is a fine showcase of just how deep.
“Tremelo Rain,” written by Kennard and 8 Ball Aitken tells a big story. “Mr. Tom is a shady cat down on Bourbon Street. He’ll pick your pockets, steal your watch and go gambling on a Riverboat Queen…” Of course, that’s just a tiny snippet of the story.
You’ll find a lot of Louisiana flavor in these songs. When asked about that, he replied, “I played music down in Louisiana for many years and their music, as well as their culture, always resonated with me.”
The intro to “Steel & Wood” sets that bayou mood with a slide guitar riff.
It is impossible to listen to “Miss Honey” and not tap your foot to that signature Kennard beat.
The title track, “Riverside” is a sinister warning. “Ain’t nobody here ever survives. Nobody crosses Riverside…Wham bam another man down. Wham bam blood on the ground…”
Another personal favorite is “Mama’s Cookin’.” A slice of life told with a raw funkiness that makes you hungry.
“Two Dollars Down” is another story song set in the old Storyville prostitute district in 1800s New Orleans. “Two dollars down, boy, will keep you satisfied…”
If I was forced to pick only one song from this CD, it would hands-down be “Across The River.” It is poignant and laced with so many paradoxes. The melody, lyrics, harmonica, and Guthrie’s signature guitar roll create an atmospheric song that moves. “So, pick me up in the morning, take me for a ride, on the road outside of Richmond across the river to the other side. And I sing hallelujah, hallelujah…”
The album ends with “Rustle in the Corn.”
From start to finish, this is a CD I will listen to over and again. Guthrie does not shy away from his truth. With a raspy voice and unique funkiness, there is no one like him.