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Barrelhouse Chuck
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Blues CD Cover Art Blues On Stage
Review date: December 2000
Barrelhouse Chuck
"25 Years of Chicago Blues Piano"
by Gordon Baxter

Barrelhouse Chuck Goering's latest CD is a retrospective on his career to date. Although raised in Worthington, Ohio, Chuck moved to Chicago aged 19 where he learned the Chicago piano style under the tutelage of Little Brother Montgomery and Sunnyland Slim. "25 Years..." shows that Chuck was obviously a good listener.

Throughout the album Chuck gives a demonstration of how the piano can be used as a lead instrument, as well as a backing instrument. He also turns his hand to Farfisa organ on Earl Hooker's "Wah-Wah Blues," and even chips in with a couple of vocals too. The tracks on the album all appear to have been culled from Chuck's various recordings--there are no liner notes as such. The quality of the various band line-ups illustrates the high esteem in which Chuck is held by his fellow musicians. These include several luminaries from the contemporary scene in Chicago (and beyond), including Calvin Jones, Willie Kent, Sam Lay, the late S.P. Leary, Carl Weathersby and Johnny B. Moore.

Do not expect any major surprises in the style, because it is all, as the title suggests, Chicago blues, albeit in several guises. Eight of the 17 tracks are instrumentals, starting with the excellent "Salute To Sunnyland Slim", and the album also includes tributes to other friends and influences ("Blues For Pinetop Perkins," "Leroy Carr's Hop," and "Farewell To S.P. Leary"). Although Chuck sings on a couple of tracks, he is happy to let others tackle vocals on the seven remaining tracks.

"25 Years of Chicago Blues Piano" offers a good introduction to the work of Barrelhouse Chuck, although fans will probably already own at least some of the tracks here. There are not too many remaining pianists who play in the Chicago style, and Barrelhouse Chuck provides a bridge between the past and the present, mostly combining elements of Sunnyland Slim and Pinetop Perkins with a high dose of originality. If you are looking for a fix of Chicago blues piano, "25 Years of Chicago Blues Piano" is no bad place to start, and you can find out more about it (and Chuck) from his web site (www.barrelhousechuck.com).

This review is copyright 2000 by Gordon Baxter, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.

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