Tutu’s Testifyin’ Blues
Tutu testifies. Every note of every song is a passionate and intensely personal declaration. He just can’t help it. The maximum effort approach has always been his musical method and as long the fans keep screaming out their approval he’s going to keep with the program.
The Dallas-based blues veteran, whose extensive music business background includes work with everyone from R.L. Burnside to Z.Z. Hill, has an impressive catalog of studio recordings. But this is the first recording of his electrifying live show and it’s a dynamic documentation of a fiery Texas original caught in full incendiary action.
Tutu’s untamed Texas guitar work, a lineal descendant of family friend Freddie King’s explosive style, is the perfect partner for his evocative vocals. And that’s what is front and center on this live recording. There is no after-the-fact sonic sweetening, no guest stars and no nonsense; just Tutu testifying with a relentless set of rockin’ R&B and blistering blues. What results is nothing less than a Texas blues master at the height of his powers, doing what he does best where he does it the best—in front of a live audience.
A vintage, low-fi, high impact bonus track takes things even deeper as if offers a raw slice of Tutu tearing it up on his home Texas turf, ripping and roaring through “The Sky Is Crying” in a fervent blues testimonial.
By Martin De Leon II
Mean-faced and holding his guitar like a shotgun, Dallas-based bluesman Tutu Jones is no joke. His guitar style is the blues equivalent of N.W.A on ecstasy: brutal, yet sprinkled with subtle soul. Jones grew up a drummer, then eventually plucked his way into the spotlight. His poorly titled Live debut is a Mike Tyson punch of sugary songs about heartache (“Have You Ever Loved a Woman”) and good times (“Sunday Morning Love”). Jones churns out some clean picking, and just when his blues start wearing you down – repetition is no one’s friend – Jones throws some soul around with ease. “My Girl,” the only cover on the album, is sung in Jones’ rusty voice and puts some rockist weight on the feathery hit. Shy is not what blues musicians are known for, and Jones is no different, as everything is boastful on this disc. Scales get manhandled on “Shake What Your Mama Gave You” where they free booty and brain in a fit of solos. Bluesmen are traditionalists, but Jones learns how to mesh soulful wails with syrupy blues that are as sweaty live as they are in quiet studios.
“Focusing the emotional thrust of a song as well as any Texan on the circuit this decade, Tutu Jones pledges fidelity to the grand old Dallas-Fort Worth blues tradition with his strong singing and his exciting yet thoughtful Freddie King-style guitar. Listeners get yanked into worlds full of despair and renewal by spirited makeovers of Bobby Bland’s “Sunday Morning Love”, Smokey Robinson’s “My Girl” and by forceful rundowns of three originals.”