REVIEWS

Bob Gardner "Lucky Man" in "Blues Matters! Magazine" 
04.18.2017

CD REVIEWs:

BOB GARDNER

LUCKY MAN

Independent

Information about Bob Gardner is scant other than the fact that he is a Las Vegas singer and this is his debut album although it soon becomes obvious that he has been around the block with his rough-hewn, care-worn and effective vocals. The songs and production were written and masterminded by lead guitarist Eric Walters and he has given us a top notch album of modern electric blues, much of it horn driven. Opening track Ain’t Gonna Worry No More kicks off with a horn blast and a few crisp notes from Walters’ stinging guitar before Gardner’s forceful vocals take centre stage. Great start! Dallas has a slightly Latin feel to it and the whole band are on sparkling form. The funky big band sound of Shotgun Shack is an exhilarating ride with the horns riffing and providing concise solos all topped off by Gardner’s soulful vocals. Walters fine slide guitar playing adds a bluesy edge to the poppy What’s Your Name and leads into the soul-ballad Not Gonna Let You Go which features a superb sax solo by Bill Holloman. Walters plays an excellent guitar solo on Part Time Lover Man as Gardner croons soulfully and the horns riff gently in the background. Walters actually wrote these well-constructed songs for an album and tour with Buddy Whittington but circumstances changed and it is a testament to all concerned that they have produced what feels like a working band album rather than a solo singer fronting a pick-up band. Johnny’s Door is a jazzy late night soul-blues number but title track Lucky Man is a jaunty upbeat stomper. The album closes with Ain’t Dead Yet a Crescent City style rave-up featuring a tuba bassline and wailing trumpet solo from Holloman and tinkling piano from Jack Myers. A great finish to a very accomplished album and I hope they are able to achieve more and build on this impressive debut.

Alan

 

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For Blues Bytes May Issue
August 10, 2018 

Lucky Man (Bob Gardner Music) has an interesting backstory.  Originally conceived as a project for Texas guitarist/singer Buddy Whittington, Guitarist Eric Walters wrote a number of songs and actually recorded 19 songs in Dallas for New Tex Records.  Unfortunately, the project was shelved, so Walters headed to Vegas and emlisted a new band to back a new singer, Bob Gardner.

 

Walters wrote or co-wrote (with keyboardist Jack Myers) all ten songs, and Gardner’s brawny, but soulful vocals are up to the challenge.  So is the rest of the band, with Walters contributing lead and rhythm guitar, Aziz Bucater on drums/percussion, Rich Champion manning the bass, Bill Hollomon providing horns, and Brett Hansen and Myers on keyboards.

Walters gives listeners a pretty diverse set of tunes to enjoy and Gardner brings his A-game to tracks like the opening shuffle, “Ain’t Gonna Worry No More,” the strong mid-tempo rocker, “Dallas,” the blistering “Shotgun Shack” (complete with a scorching saxophone break from Hollomon), and the lively “What’s Your Name,” which has a pop feel and some fine slidework from Walters.

 

There’s also an excellent pair of ballads…..”Not Gonna Let You Go” and “Johnny’s Door”……that give listeners an opportunity to check out Gardner’s versatility.  “Part Time Lover Man” is a funky tune that is well-complemented by the horn section and Hansen’s keyboards, and the southern rocker “Devil’s Blues” is a standout as well.  The sharp title track and the New Orleans-flavored closer “Ain’t Dead Yet” close the disc on a positive note.

 

Though the original session for Lucky Man didn’t work out so well, Walters struck gold with his back-up plan.  Bob Gardner is a powerful vocalist who turns in a superlative performance on these ten tracks.  Hopefully, we will hear more from these guys in the  near future. 

Graham Clarke

Blues Bytes Magazine

Bob Gardner Rocks!
03.06.2017

Lucky Man is the debut release from Las Vegas singer, Bob Gardner. Recorded at Audio Arts in Las Vegas (and hats off to organist and producer Brett Hansen for capturing such a pristine yet cutting sound), it features 10 songs all written or co-written by guitarist Eric Walters that nestle in the category of modern electric blues, with hints of soul and blues-rock thrown in.

Kicking off with the upbeat shuffle of “Aint’ Gonna Worry No More”, there is a confidently assertive authority to the music that provides a solid foundation to underpin Gardner’s muscular vocals. Equally comfortable on the rumba of “Dallas”, the funk of “Shotgun Shack” ballads such as “Not Gonna Let You Go” and “Johnny’s Door”, or even the Huey Lewis and The News-esque “What’s Your Name”, the musicians exhibit a tangible maturity and control, whilst still tapping into the emotional essence of each song.

The core band on the album comprises drummer Aziz Bucater, bassist Rick Champion, and guitarist Walters. Keyboard duties  are shared between Hansen (who also contributes masterful tuba bass on the New Orleans-esque closer, “Ain’t Dead Yet”) and organist/pianist Jack Myers, while the great Bill Holloman (formerly with the late, great Danny Gatton) contributes superb horn parts to a number of tracks – his saxophone solo at the beginning of “Shotgun Shack” is eviscerating. Rich Steele guests on guitar on “Johnny’s Door.”

Bucater and Champion are a top drawer rhythm section, providing the primer over which Walters, Hansen, Myers and Holloman lay down a series of short, melodic and highly effective solos as well as thoughtful, distinctive rhythm parts (Walters’ rhythm guitar on “Shotgun Shack” is both original and toe-tappingly memorable), whilst never losing sight of the need to support the song and the singer. Gardner himself has a rough-hewn, bar-room brawler of a voice, reminiscent of the likes of Joe Cocker and Paul Cox that still conveys an emotional vulnerability.

Lucky Man is a very impressive first offering from Gardner, who benefits from Walters’ well-constructed songs and the band’s sparkling performances. Indeed, the release feels very much like a “band” offering rather than a singer with backing musicians. It is perhaps unfortunate therefore that the CD was provided for review with negligible background or biographical information. At the time of writing, Gardner’s website, as listed on the CD cover, is awaiting ICANN verification and there is very little other information about Gardner easily accessible online. As such it is difficult to know how the album came to be produced or what Gardner’s next steps will be. Let’s hope however he builds on this highly enjoyable release. It’s a debut to be proud of.

BOB GARDNER - Lucky Man

Skriven av Oscar Majling. Publicerad i Skivrecensioner

03.06.2017

BOB GARDNER
Lucky Man
Egen
39 min

Las Vegas-blues är vad det handlar om här. Bob Gardner kommer ifrån staden ifråga, där han också har spelat in skivan. Följaktligen spelar han också musik som tydligt ska spegla Las Vegas. Det är nattklubbsblues som lätt smälter in i bakgrunden på ett casino, med cigarrök, spelmarker och hela den konkarongen. Det är knappast omvälvande, men man måste ge honom credit för att han har ett tydligt bildspråk och har gjort en helt okej debut.

Bob Gardner er et ubeskrevet blad på den store bluesscene. Han har hjemme i Las Vegas, hvor han har sunget blues, rock og soul på de lokale scener med sit Bob Gardner Band. Lucky man er hans debutalbum.

Hjernen bag Lucky man er imidlertid guitaristen og sangskriveren Eric Walters. Albummet fik sin spæde begyndelse, da Walters blev bedt om at skrive nogle sange til Buddy Whittington (John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers). Da dét projekt af forskellige årsager faldt til jorden, slog Walters i stedet pjalterne sammen med sangeren Bob Gardner, og Lucky man blev født.

Sangene er alle sammen af Eric Walters; to af dem skrevet sammen med pianisten Jack Myers. De to udgør også kernen af bandet sammen med trommeslager Aziz Bucater og bassist Rick Champion samt Bill Holloman på blæsere og Brett Hansen på diverse instrumenter, primært orgel.

Der spilles forskellige varianter af moderne, elektrisk blues og bluesrock. Åbningsnummeret ”Ain’t gonna worry no more” læner sig f.eks. mod B.B. King og hans Memphis blues, mens både ”Dallas” og ”Part time lover man” har små latin-touches a la Carlos Santana.

Der er således en pæn variation i sangene, som også hver især er af ganske fin kvalitet. Imidlertid er albummet præget af en besynderlig, 80’er-agtig produktion, som bestemt ikke gør det nogen tjenester. Bill Hollomans blæsere fylder f.eks. rigtig meget på pladen, men i stedet for at bidrage med rhythm & blues-friskhed lyder de ofte syntetiske og er simpelthen brugt for meget. Det udjævner noget af sangenes stilmæssige forskellighed og bringer dem i fare for at flyde sammen til en ensartet masse.

Dét er en skam, for når Holloman får plads, gør han det faktisk rigtig fint, f.eks. i de veloplagte saxofonsoloer på ”Shotgun shack” eller på ”Not gonna let you go”, hvor hans sax duellerer med Walters’ i øvrigt glimrende leadguitar.

Bob Gardner har en særegen, hæs vokal, som egner sig godt til bluesrock-repertoiret. Også han lyder dog overproduceret og let kunstig, hvilket forhindrer hans stemme i rigtigt at træde i karakter. At han er hentet ind som forsanger uden sangskriverkrediteringer medvirker måske også til, at hans performance virker en smule distanceret.

De individuelle præstationer er der således ikke noget at udsætte på, men man savner simpelthen albuerum til, at såvel sange som musikere kan få lov til at folde sig ud og vise deres respektive særkender. Den glatte, klaustrofobiske produktion gør, at man som lytter kommer til at småkede sig, som albummet skrider frem. Og det fortjener råmaterialet ellers faktisk ikke.

Lucky man bliver dog reddet på målstregen af sidste skæring, den New Orleans-inspirerede ”Ain’t dead yet”. Den er pladens absolut bedste nummer, dels fordi den rent stilmæssigt evner at skille sig ud, dels fordi samtlige medvirkende faktisk lyder, som om de har det sjovt. Bob Gardner leverer sin mest engagerede vokal, Bill Hollomans messingblæsere (suppleret af Brett Hansen på tuba) har en fest, og der er små, veloplagte finesser fra percussion, guitar og klaver. Mere af den slags personlighed næste gang, tak!