Yes Margaret, real blues based on The Chicago blues sound and other blues influences does exist. By golly Jay Walter and The Rectifiers actually do live up to the build up of their promo sheet. Unlike some other bands that tout themselves as playing authentic blues but put out nothing but rock songs declaring themselves as bluesmen, here’s a band from Minnesota of all places dishing out the genuine item with dedication and talent to spare. Jay Walter Wilkins and company deliver the goods. Jay is a natural on vocals and expressive on the harmonica. He wrote all the lyrics and wrote or co-wrote all the music excluding the one cover song. He has enlisted solid musicians and co-produced along with John Franken.
Throughout the music drips with authenticity without sounding like copycats. They draw from the wellspring of the blues greats that went before them while making the music sound vibrant and fresh. “Rectifier Man” ponders about the use of vintage equipment, blues men of old while working in a love sentiment. All gears click right from the get go and Jay’s splendid blues voice and harmonica playing take you to the Chicago in your head.
The easy rollin’ blues of “Hitchin’ 94 muses on hitching on I-94. “The Legend” paints a picture of a somewhat phony music “star” using a super infectious guitar riff. Jay stretches out on harp over Bruce McCabe’s “tinkling” piano and the usual guitar goodness of John Franken and Dan Schwalbe on the upbeat “Mean Hearted Woman.” The band toughens up their approach a bit on the muscular Chicago Blues of “You Saw Me See You”.
The slow blues of “Lies and Secrets” is a good change of pace. It owes much to the classic tortured blues tomes of days gone by. It’s back to more upbeat blues sounds on “Early Saturday Morning (Worky’s Song). John Schroder’s sturdy bass pattern supports the Chicago groove of “Sweet Lovely”. The hep cat jive of “Con Man” is made more enticing with the addition of boogie woogie piano and rockabillyish guitar.
The lone cover Jimmy Reed’s “Gonna Find My Baby” stays true to the master’s easy loping style. Bringing down the curtain is the swinging instrumental “On the Beam” that lets Jay’s harmonica skills shine
Jay’s voice has the spot on blues attitude to give these tunes authenticity. That carries through to his tough harp skills and his hand-picked crop of first rate musicians from the Twin Cities blues scene If you have a hankering for fresh sounding blues that owes a debt to the masters, you just can’t go wrong here.
Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta.
“Wilkins has a very fine voice and adds to the buoyant atmosphere with his steady smile. Get out and see this band soon – they are a pile of fun!”
Ann Wickstrom – BluesOnStage live review at The Landing
“His harp stylings can stand up to just about anybody in a talented field of blues harmonica players…..Jay’s vocal’s are convincing and strong, and his songs are well crafted.”
Paul Rossez – liner notes from “Keep On Rollin’.”
“Jay Wilkins paints his jabbing, slicing harmonica riffs in gorgeous blue tones.”
Jeff Calvin – Blues Review magazine review of “The Blues Kings.”
“The Rectifiers draw material from the Chicago masters but also look to the early melding of gospel, rock-a-billy, blues, and country that can be found in the early Sun and Excello recordings. The personnel behind Jay’s harp varies, but the lineup is guaranteed to be top notch.”
Minnesota Blues Society webpage article
“The Rectifiers heated it up on a cold night.”
Minnesota Blues Society live review at Nuemann’s Bar
“For fans of 1950’s Chicago blues, this stripped down, four piece outfit does a credible job of recreating a vintage sound.”
Craig Ruskey – Blues Review magazine review of “Keep On Rollin’.“
Blues Harp Fest – 2008
Blues Harp Extravaganza – 2002
Both of these events featured the top harp players in the Twin Cities.
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