Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pat Ramsey and The Blues Disciples - "Live In Key West!"

Pat Ramsey and The Blues Disciples
"Live In Key West!"
Snailworx Productions
By Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro © August 2010


It's a pleasure and an honor to have the opportunity to work with this posthumously released Pat Ramsey CD.  Besides being one of my favorite harmonica players and vocalists, Pat was also a very dear friend. It seemed like we bonded from the very first minute we introduced ourselves, at Alligator Alley, in Sunrise, FL.  That was ten years ago, and since then the club is gone and so is Pat. Although it saddens me that he won't be able to read these words, I'll always have a fond memory of Pat that will forever put a smile on my face. Following a Saturday night gig about 10 minutes from my house, I had Pat and the band over for a good old fashion Sunday afternoon Italian dinner, before they headed back to Tallahassee.  I swear, I never saw a bunch of skinny guys eat so much, and after we were done, Pat said it "was the best Italian food he's ever had." It's a compliment I'll never forget, especially since it came from the best harmonica player I ever heard.

"Live In Key West!" was recorded from Pat Ramsey and The Blues Disciples in Key West, FL shows during 2004. The band consisted of Pat Ramsey on vocals and harmonica, Dave Renson - Pat's band mate for over ten years - on guitar and Dobro,  Duane Waider on drums and John Wentzien on bass.

The sincerity in his voice, and the feeling he puts into his words, leads you to believe he really needs it when he says "Somebody Loan Me A Dime".   The first eight minutes of this eleven minute soulful ballad is all Pat - singing and blowing his heart out as he did so well. Of course, on a track this long you couldn't keep Dave quiet the whole time.   Some excellent crying guitar licks add to the melancholy mood.

Just saying the name of this track pretty much tells the whole story - "Whammer Jammer". Those two words should be listed in the dictionary with a description that states: "One hell of an ass kicking, all out free for all instrumental jam led by fierce and frantic harmonica playing." Did I make my point? I'm betting even Magic Dick and J. Geils would love this version.

One of the two original tracks on the disc, this one penned by Dave, is "Got Love If You Want It".   Coincidence or not, some of the discs best guitar work can be heard right here. Fueled by a hot rhythm, led by Duane on the drums, Dave tears it up on this one.

One of my favorite styles of harmonica playing is the type that Jimmy Reed made famous - that high pitched, sharp, piercing sound. On the cover of his "Honest I Do", Pat nails the sound. The smooth sound coming out of Dave's guitar and the mellow rhythm being produced by Duane and John, on drums and bass, make this a classic for a slow dance.

At the opening of "Dead Shrimp Blues" there's a three minute harmonica intro that could have been a song in itself. Then there are several vocal breaks where the band, at discs best, just locks into a groove that would have had me saying "lock the door and throw away the key" if I was in the room.  Great rhythm, great guitar leads, and great vocals make this the best version of this song I've ever heard.

Other tracks on "Live In Key West!" include: "Dog House Blues", "Jammin' In The Jungle", "Stingin' Stang", "Highway 49/Highway 61 Revisited" and "Last Night".

This is the part of the review where I always advise the reader to visit the artists' website - to purchase a disc, and to send my regards to the artist as well. Well, you can get the disc at www.snailworx.com, but the regards part won't be necessary.  My friend Pat already knows I'm thinking of him.


It's always been my opinion that Pat Ramsey was one of the artists that the blues community so wrongfully overlooked. How or why he never achieved the recognition he so deserved still baffles me.  Maybe his time is yet to come - here are some words from someone who believes that as well......

"The overall musicianship of the band was outstanding and Pat's vocals sounded like the real thing. I was very impressed by the dynamics, performances and song combinations of Pat Ramsey & The Blues Disciples. My label has just submitted this CD for Grammy consideration for Best Contemporary Blues Album."

Michael Lewis
Snailworx Productions

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com

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