REMEMBERING THE MASTERS
You have to imagine that when Chuck Goering first chose to release his recordings under the name Barrelhouse Chuck that he had sufficient confidence in his boogie-woogie piano playing to carry it off.
Having served a long apprenticeship in the art of blues and boogie-woogie piano, the odds on this were clearly in his favour, having commenced his learning in the early 1970s in Chicago alongside Blind John Davis, Erwin Helfer, Sunnyland Slim (pictured with Chuck circa 1980 on the album’s cover), Little Brother Montgomery and Pinetop Perkins among others.
Forever grateful for what these giants of piano blues were able to teach and inspire in him, Chuck now pays homage to their skills and styles on this superb CD, along with those of other piano players whose recordings have also influenced him (Leroy Carr, Big Maceo, Otis Spann and more).
On these 14 tracks, Chuck proves marvellously adept at invoking the styles and spirits of his heroes, be it on Little Brother Montgomery’s charming I Just Keep On Drinking or on Leroy Carr’s more reflective How Long, How Long Blues.
On quite a few of these tracks it is just Chuck’s masterful piano and vocals but there are a couple of guest pianists in the house - Lluis Coloma is handed the task of capturing Little Brother Montgomery’s distinctively sedate Vicksburg Blues, which he does with aplomb: and Scott Grube gets the piano stool on the Irving Berlin melancholy classic, How About Me (a real blast and one of many highlights on the album).
Aside from these two guest pianists, the only other musical contributor to the album is Chuck’s long-term guitarist Billy Flynn. For an album that is principally a celebration of the piano, it is fair to say that Billy makes a massive contribution wherever he appears. On Chicago Blues, Flynn plays some lovely Robert Nighthawk-like slide guitar behind Chuck’s homage to the ivory-tickling skills of Little Johnny Jones. On Keep On Drinking, Flynn this time invokes the mandolin skills of Johnny Young and does so marvellously. And if you need any evidence of the kinetic synergy that exists between Chuck and Billy, take a listen to the two hopping instrumentals that book-end this fine collection.
If you don’t know Chuck at all, or only from his recordings with the Kim Wilson Blues All-Stars (also available on Sirens Records), this is a tremendous chance to enjoy his massive talents. Highly recommended.
Review Date: August 2016