On my last CD, and on my previous recordings, the focus has been on original tunes. On this latest release, I chose to do songs that have always meant something to me. I have been fortunate enough to have worked with Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, Junior Wells, and Detroit Jr, all of whose songs have appeared on this CD. Janis Joplin's Turtle Blues has been a favorite of mine ever since the day I picked up Cheap Thrills in NYC back in 1968. Not many, if any, men have recorded this tune. I met Otis Spann in 1969, and his spirit left an impression on me that I feel whenever I perform. Evil Ways is a sad song that many of us can identify with, and it’s one that I have wanted to record for a long time.

What can I say about Freddie King???? I saw him perform many times and I also met him in the good old 60’s. These are two very distinctly different songs that I chose to do, both of which I have loved for many years. Detroit Jr., when penned Call My Job, was a good friend of mine back in Chicago. I used to get a kick out of seeing him do this tune, as he would often climb out from under the piano and emerge to the sound of an alarm clock as if he was being woken out of bed. If you have a job, you can relate to this one.

I had heard BB King’s version of Blues Stay Away From Me many years ago, but Jan Fanucchi reminded me of the original Delmore Brothers version, complete with catchy bass line. On Scot’s suggestion, I used a whammy bar on my solo. I like it and hope you do, too. Roosevelt Sykes – the Honeydripper – is one of my all time favorite artists. Dangerous Man always brings chuckles to the audience, and it gives me a chance to try my licks on a different beat. Worried About My Gal, an original, is a tune that anyone who has had a crazy boyfriend or girlfriend can understand, plus it has a good bass line and lots of guitar!

Last but certainly not least is Easy Rider, which has to be one of the oldest known blues songs. On this version, we use a different arrangement and traditional instrumentation, the kind of which one might have heard in New Orleans in the early part of the twentieth century. I love the combination of mandolin and trombone. As I have always said, I am not trying to change the blues, I love certain genres of the music and I strive to interpret it in my own way. Scot Brenton and I worked hard on this CD to bring some tunes to the listener that they may not have heard before. We hope you enjoy this CD and that it leads you to further explore these artists and the classic blues stylings.

Steve Freund, November 2012

Steve Freund is one of the most consistently creative guitarists playing blues today. His crisp, cleanly executed solos are marvels of invention, filled with surprise yet firmly within traditions established by such giants as Hubert Sumlin and Albert, B.B., and Freddie King. Noted for his extensive credits as a sideman for the likes of Koko Taylor and James Cotton, the New York–born musician has concentrated on a solo career since relocating to the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area from Chicago in the mid-’90s. He also has evolved into a commanding, quite soulful vocalist.

His fifth solo album—and second for San Francisco harmonica blower Scot Brenton’s 9 Below label—is made up mostly of tunes by other artists, rather than his own songs, which had been the focus of his earlier CDs. He does open the current set with an original blues composition titled Worried About That Gal but then moves into a program of great tunes by others that are too seldom performed these days. They include Junior Wells’ Come On in This House, Detroit Jr.’s Call My Job, Janis Joplin’s Turtle Blues, Roosevelt Sykes’s Dangerous Man, Freddie King’s Play It Cool, Eddie Vinson’s Cleanhead Blues, and St. Louis Jimmy’s Evil Ways. The set deviates from the urban blues format with a delightfully old-timey treatment of the traditional Easy Rider, on which mandolinist Dave Earl and trombonist Mike Rinta help give the song an early New Orleans flavor, and with the Delmore Brothers’ Blues Stay Away from Me, one of two duets with the powerful vocalist Jan Fanucchi. Also making noteworthy contributions to Freund’s outstanding new recording are bassist Steve Wolf, drummer Paul Revelli, and keyboardists Wendy DeWitt and Sid Morris.

Lee Hildebrand
Living Blues Magazine

This CD is available directly from Steve via mail for $20 shipped to your door via mail. Please contact Steve directly via e-mail for details.

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