Saturday, January 3, 2015

Blues Blast Magazine Album Review: Detroit Frank Dumont – Let Me Be Frank


This CD review was originally published in the October 17, 2013 edition of Blues Blast Magazine. Be sure to check out the rest of the magazine at

Detroit Frank Dumont – Let Me Be Frank

Self Release

11 tracks / 48:32

The music world is chock full of half-finished albums and projects that got off to a good start but for some reason never got finished. Let Me Be Frank could have been one of those ill-fated efforts, but Detroit Frank Dumont persevered and rolled this album off the assembly line a whopping 22 years after it was started.

Originally hailing from Benton Harbor, Michigan (right across the lake from Chicago), singer and guitarist Frank Dumont has definitely been around the block a few times. He started his career in the early 70s with the Detroit Blues Band, and since then he has lived and gigged all over the globe -- from Hawaii to Amsterdam and everywhere in between. Along the way he has shared the stage with legendary blues figures, including John Lee Hooker, Greg Allman and Buddy Miles.

These days Frank is working out of Colorado Springs with his band, The Drivin’ Wheels, but the genesis of Let Me be Frank predates his work with this group. The first sessions for this album were recorded in 1991 at studios all around the country, including Louisiana, California and Memphis. Dumont held onto these tracks until 2012 when he started recording again, this time in North Carolina, Colorado, Nashville, Memphis, North Hollywood, and Alabama. This guy really gets around! Everything came together late last year when the source material was digitally mastered by Larry and Kevin Nix in Nashville. They did an amazing job of taking all of these sessions and making them come together into a singular entity.

There is plenty of heavy-hitting talent on this disc, and there is no way to include everybody that participated in this review. You will find the pillars of the blues community, the musicians that played in bands with BB King, Freddie King and Buddy Miles.

The first track up is “Key to the Highway,” which was a hit for Little Walter in 1958. This is a rich arrangement with horns, piano and the esteemed Deacon Jones on the Hammond B3. Dumont displays a smooth guitar talent, and his voice is road-worn and wise. I would like to see him perform this song live! After this, Frank belts out nine covers of songs by Freddie King, BB King and Robert Johnson.

Dumont is a Freddie King fan and he growls his way through Freddie King’s “Tore Down,” a classic 8-bar hit that was also covered by Clapton. Benny Turner’s fat bass keeps this rollicking tune moving, and David Maxwell lays down some killer piano that at times is swallowed up in the mix. “Hide Away” is a fun instrumental that lets Frank tear loose on his guitar over a complex arrangement of organ, piano and a passel of horns. The other Freddie King songs on this disc are both performed as instrumentals: “The Stumble,” and “I’ll Be There,” with the latter showing some interesting Hawaiian influences and more than enough harp (not the harmonica kind, either).

BB King is well-represented, with Dumont howling his way through “Every Day I Have the Blues” and “How Blue Can You Get.” While the rock-solid backline of Mighty Mike Doster and Caleph Emphrey Junior keep it real, Victor Wainwright provides some righteous piano work on “How Blue Can You Get.” This is one of the standout tracks on Let Me Be Frank.

Three of the tracks were penned by Robert Johnson: “Kind Hearted Woman,” “Traveling Riverside Blues,” and the inevitable “Crossroads.” In keeping with the original spirit of these songs, these are more bare bones arrangements with harmonica and slide acoustic guitar. Frank was respectful of the source material and did not go very far off the beaten path when reproducing these songs.

The album finishes up with its sole original track, “Blues for Buddy,” a tribute to Dumont’s friend Buddy Miles, who passed on before he could record drum tracks for this project. This instrumental psychedelic blues song is a grand yet casual-sounding jam that includes a few guys that played with Buddy back in the day: Deacon Jones and Jimi Hendrix’s bass player, Billy Cox.

Let Me Be Frank is a sampler of blues styles, with material written by the greats and played with gusto. It is obvious that Detroit Frank Dumont and his friends gave their all for this project, and I hope you can take the time to give it a listen.