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It takes a rare gift to install yourself in the competitive environs of New Orleans’ famed Bourbon Street and consistently draw capacity audiences night after night, even when other clubs are standing empty. And it’s a rarer gift even than that to have achieved this reputation with only a stripped-down quartet that plays nothing but straight electric blues. In New Orleans. On Bourbon Street.

What’s Charles Jacobs’ secret?

First of all, he’s got a light-as-air touch on both guitar and vocals – no heavy-handed, over-the-top effects for him. Instead, everything he does, he does with subtle style. Second, he grew up in Mississippi and absorbed all the hardcore blues influences he could lay his ears on, from Lightnin’ Hopkins and Howlin’ Wolf to B.B. King and T-Bone Walker, Ray Charles and Brook Benton to Johnny Taylor and James Brown.

Third, he’s got a back-up band that seems not only to anticipate his every move, but tailors their approach perfectly to their leader’s style – the Hammond B-3 is always there but never overwhelming, the bass adds a rhythmic dimension without being intrusive, and the drums are always right where you want them, driving hard but also hanging discreetly just behind the beat.

That leaves the band’s leader right in front simultaneously weaving sinuous guitar lines beneath gruff and evocative vocals on all kinds of blues standards, from “Every Day I Have the Blues” to “Stormy Monday” to “Sex Machine,” rendering each one with fidelity to the original while adding his own unique touch, forged in the passion of spontaneous improvisation.

Nothing to it, really. Just the blues, reduced to its pure essence.

 
 

 


 

PART TIME LOVE

EVERYDAY I HAVE THE BLUES

I’LL PLAY THE BLUES FOR YOU

IT’S MY OWN FAULT

THE THRILL IS GONE

STORMY MONDAY

WOLF HOWL

SEX MACHINE

YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO

I’M AS NEAR AS YOUR TELEPHONE

TO KNOW YOU IS LOVE YOU

RAINY NIGHT IN GEORGIA

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