Saturday, February 8, 2014

Dirty Red and the SoulShakers – SoulShakin Album Review


This CD review was originally published in the March 28, 2013 edition of Blues Blast Magazine. Be sure to check out the rest of the magazine at

Dirty Red & The SoulShakers – SoulShakin

Self Release

9 tracks / 36:32

Recently I have been hearing a lot more blues music coming out of the lower midwest, and I finally got a CD from a band out of Oklahoma City, Dirty Red & the SoulShakers. They have recently self-released their first album, SoulShakin, and it is a real peach!

This group includes most of the band that blues legend Miss Blues has been using since 2007. Last year these guys decided to give the IBC Blues Challenge a go, so they started doing their own thing too. Their leader is Eric “Dirty Red” McDaniel on vocals and harmonica, with Michael Bell on drums, Reece Floyd on bass, Robb Hibbard on guitar, and Joe Intrieri on keys. The SoulShakers have played countless gigs, both with each other and for other projects, so they are super-tight and have no problem finding a groove and sticking with it.

SoulShakin includes nine tracks, all of them originals written by McDaniel, with Mr. Hibbard having co-writing credit on two of them. This album brings on the blues, both lyrically and musically, and is colored with influences of soul, R&B, funk and honky-tonk. It is a clean sounding project that is well-mixed, so credit should go to producers McDaniel and Hibbard as they picked a good team to record, mix and master this work. This is apparent from the very first track, “Cornbread,” which is a funky blues rock song with a neat organ part that provides a cool background. By the way, with the amount of sexual innuendo worked into the lyrics, it is apparent why they call him “Dirty Red” Mc Daniel.

Besides his pen, McDaniel also knows how to use the harp and I find his voice to be pleasantly worn and raspy – broken in, I guess you could say. He puts all of his skills to use on the hard-driving “Shotgun,” which could be yet another euphemism (“My shotgun makes me a man…”). Besides his harmonica solo, Hibbard and Intrieri are also worked into the spotlight; I came away impressed because these guys certainly have some chops. After the frenzied pace of this tune, the slow-boiling “Queen of New Orleans” comes as a welcome break. Bell breaks out the brushes, and his drums and Floyd’s smooth bass sync to create a cool Crescent City vibe as Dirty Red sings the lowdown blues.

The highlight of the SoulShakin for me was the guest appearance by Miss Blues on “Goin Back to Texas.” This walking tempo song is classic guitar-driven blues with heavy doses of organ and harmonica. Hibbard uses an electric guitar tone that is to die for and when Intrieri starts into the organ and McDaniel hits his harp this trio has great interplay. Miss Blues nails her part and her voice certainly nominates her for the queen of the Oklahoma blues; as a former Okie she gets my vote, although it is a shame she is singing about the Lone Star State.

“Hammer” breaks away from the more classical blues sounds and ventures out into the realm of Southern rock. This feeling is helped along by the heavy drums and harder-edged guitar. This is a smooth ride and there is quite a contrast as it segues into “Demons Swallowed Her Soul,” which is all about the voice and the harmonica. With the rest of the instrumentation kept to a minimum, Mc Daniel is able to show off a little, and his voice and harmonica skills are certainly up to the task. At barely two minutes, this is the shortest track on the album.

The SoulShakers put together another ballad for this album, and “Hard Liquor” is a winner. The lyrics are not the expected George Thorogood glorification of alcohol abuse, but are rather clever and touch on the root cause of the drinking. The background music, in particular the organ tone, is just lovely and when combined with the words this becomes a standout track. After this the mood quickly changes for the finale, “Sweet Potato Pie,” which is as hard as it gets. This is the bare bones with no drums as Mc Daniel howls the lyrics and blows a terrific harmonica while Hibbard tears loose on his guitar. What a sweet way to finish up.

Dirty Red & the SoulShakers have done the Lord’s work in putting together their debut album. SoulShakin captures the spirit of the Oklahoma blues scene, and not surprisingly the band is already working on a sophomore effort that should be released later this year. They are out gigging around the state and are still playing with Miss Blue, so be sure to check them out if you are in the neighborhood!


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