Published in the 12 Bar Rag’s current issue, another GREAT review of “goin Down To Florida”!!! From George Willett–
“Over the years I’ve listened to quite a few of Franc Roberts’ records, going back to the “Back Alley Blues Band” days. He records nearly all original material, and he has written a lot of songs over the years (often with tongue firmly in cheek)… But this new CD has consistent quality throughout and it is my hands-down favorite in his discography.
The session starts off with the title track, and a tight little cooker it is! A high-energy autobiography, Franc’s tough guitar work is nicely supported by Sam Mudd’s bass and tasty drumming by Dave Simmons….and “Smokin’ Joe” Sadowski has taken it up to another level lately, and this track is a good example!
Franc has been listening to the “Killing Floor” era Howlin’ Wolf Band and “Watch You Walk Away” owes a tip of the hat to those bad cats. The song isn’t a copy or cover by any means, but it has been flavored with that kind of seasoning. “Poor Me Blues” is a good example of Robert’s solo guitar work, and a work-out it is! He and that National steel become one being and this is about as damn Blue as guitar gets!
I’m told that “Cheap Cadillac” was being considered as the title track of this disc, and like the tune that finally earned the honor, it’s a 1Degree foot-tapper with fine solos by Franc & Joe (Weren’t they the Hardy Boys?).
“A Fool For Trying” is kind of an oddity, really. It’s a “lost love lament” that is actually rather bouncy, musically. The song has Mark Knopfler-like guitar tone and phrasing, and that’s no bad thing. I like it a lot.
I’ve always been a fan of Franc’s guitar playing, since I first heard him 9 or 10 years ago. Recently he has learned not to force his vocals so hard…and it has made a world of difference.”
From Big City Blues Magazine:
Florida bluesman Franc Robert has already delivered several pleasing albums, some with his band and last year’s “Ride the Iron Road” in solo mode.
For this outing he is backed by the trio of Dave Simmons on percussion, Sam Mudd on bass, and Joe Sadowski on harmonica. The three harmonize well with Robert’s tenor vocals on this baker’s-dozen-plus-one of tunes, all written by Robert.
The nearly full hour of music opens with the title cut, an uptempo lament of a broken relationship simultaneously extolling the potential healing power of a return to Florida. “A Night with the Blues” features Robert’s spooky spoken vocal, succeeded by “Voodoo Stomp,” a mid-tempo Louisiana swamp rocker. “What Is This Love” features a syncopated Simmons rhythm with a Latin flavor, and “Watch You Walk Away” lets Robert cut loose with some tangy guitar licks, followed by his more than capable slide work on the next song, which evokes the hoary blues metaphor of dark doings at the “crossroads.” Further exhibiting his range in the blues genre, Robert then serves up “Poor Me Blues,” a slow back-porch country number.
Next it’s time to dance to the humorous “Cheap Cadillac.” Reverting to heavy blues mode, “Not a Chance” is my favorite song of the set, an emotionally plaintive cut with Sadowski’s best harp work and some fine guitar by the leader. Following another mid-tempo rocker, Robert provides a smooth clear lead tone on “A Fool for Trying.” Dance time again! with “Riverboat Stomp,” harp and slide meshing seamlessly. “You’ll Come Home” combines soaring upper range guitar single notes with some fancy finger-picking, and the album closes appropriately with “Goodbye,” a crooned 1950s-type ballad.
From back porch to swamp to the crossroads, this album delivers an unpretentious and proficient Sunshine State statement.— Steve Daniels
From the Newport Dispatch News… enjoy!!!
Tonight, I’m appearing on Music On The Couch with Vinny Marini, starting at 12:15 am (yeah it’s late!) You can listen here
Hope to see you on the radio tonight!!
Tonight, we’re headed over to Full Sail University in Winter Springs, FL to record videos for the upcoming CD Goin’ Down To Florida… gonna be fun!!!
This JUST in, from John Vermilyea of the Blues Underground Network…
“Ride The Iron Road” marks the second album I have received from Franc Robert with the previous one being his 2012 release “Mulligan Stew” as Franc Robert & the Boxcar Tourists. “Mulligan Stew” was an album that really impressed me a lot, to the point where I even included it in my Blues Underground Network’s Top 10 USA Blues Albums 2012 List, of which some of what I wrote about that album was, “Franc Robert & the Boxcar Tourists are a rare group whom have put together a rare album indeed in “Mulligan Stew”, as this is the kind of great music that does not come around that often. I can only imagine how great it would be to play this album when camping around the campfire, as this one just has that right feel to it that can really warm the soul .” For “Ride The Iron Road”, Franc Robert has again brought us another rare treat, this time without The Boxcar Tourists as he goes Solo with just his great Voice and an equally great assortment of Guitars, which included, a National Style 1 tricone, Slide, a no-name dobro, Martin D-1R, and a 1921 Martin O-18.
“Ride The Iron Road” marks Franc Robert’s first return to his Acoustic side since his 2011 release “Why Do I Never Win”, as he offers up 11 original Tracks and 3 great Covers, “St. James Infirmary”, “Mississippi Blues”, and “Railroad Blues”. Franc Robert covers a fair bit of ground on “Ride The Iron Road”, which could be categorized as Son House Influenced, Modern Blues, and even Blues of a more Humorous nature. When you also include the Traditional three Covers, you can easily see how nicely diversified “Ride The Iron Road” is. Also with it’s diversification, comes it’s Authentic feeling side, brought to the forefront with a more Traditional length to all but one of the albums Tracks, for which the most part, fall in the under three minute category, with the opening Track actually only being 1:33 in length. I find that I really enjoy these types of albums of which the songs quickly get to the point, not relying on a whole bunch of sometimes unnecessary filler.
“Ride The Iron Road” was released April 15, 2014, and it did not take long for it to become noticed, most notably by WEFT 90.1 in Champaign, Illinois, for whom in their April 2014 Top 25 List had the album already pegged at #9 and in good company with the likes of The Holmes Brothers “Brotherhood” and Bob Corritore’s “Taboo” releases, not overly far ahead at #1 and #2.
Franc Robert’s love and knowledge of the Blues, in fact over 30 years of it, has certainly set him apart, especially when dealing with the more authentic Traditional style Blues of which you will notice right away on “Ride The Iron Road”.
Not that I needed a break, in any way, from his previous release, but never the less I sure enjoyed this other side to Franc Robert as I am sure that many others will that really enjoy super Blues done simply super.
“Ride The Iron Road” is an album I highly recommend… It is certainly one of the very best in the Solo Performer Category released, so far, in 2014…
Review by John Vermilyea (Blues Underground Network)
So far, what we’ve found on who’s playing the new CD Ride The Iron Road…
Mo Blues Monday on WMNF 88.5 FM, Tampa, FL
Top Blues w/ Terry O (syndicated)
Folk Renaissance Radio Show (Jacksonville AL WLJS 91.9)
WGLT (Normal, IL)
WEFT 90.1 FM (Champaign, IL)
Mother Road Blues Show with Kool Breeze (syndicated)
Charlietown Blues Show (syndicated)
Pork Chop Blues Show-Pualing Public Radio (NY State)
Edit: Sunnyland Steve’s Blues Show on KCSB 91.9 (Santa Barbara, CA)
If you hear of any others spinning the tunes, let us know!!!
Thanks to all of you DJs out there!!!
So far, where has Mulligan Stew been played? Well, here’s a list of what we know…
WMNF 88.5 Tampa, FL
Blues ‘n’ Boogie Internet
WRIP 97.9 Windham, NY
Pauling Public Radio
WEFT Champaign, IL
WHFR 93.3 Detroit MI
If you know of any other places it’s been played, please let us know, and we’ll add it to the list (I’m sure there’s a few more out there!!)
Thanks again to all the Radio and Internet DJs out there playing our music!!!