This just in…
The last time that Franc Robert showed his acoustic side was on 2011′s well received Why Do I Ever Win. Since then Franc has issued Mulligan Stew in 2012, and now he returns to his acoustic side with Ride The Iron Road, on Blue Chihuahua Records. At 41 minutes Ride The Iron Road shows off 11 originals and three traditional blues cuts.
As an acoustic set, the simplicity of the presentation really adds to the impact of the music, with only Franc and his guitar(s) painting vivid images, as this Florida native is so talented at doing. The sound is clear and unadorned, allowing the music to stand on its own merit. While very satisfying all the way through, we found a few selections particularly interesting.
“Chihuahua Blues” reminded us a lot of “Rambling On My Mind,” in a pleasing way, and “Dem Devil Bones” is a brisk paced George Thorogood inspired acoustic romp that will have listeners slapping their knees to the beat. “Mississippi On My Mind” is simply great picking, superbly played. “Railroad Blues” is fast paced pickin’ and slidin’ fun. “St. James Infirmary Blues” is a really interesting performance, presented here as a shuffle, and almost upbeat.
Ride The Iron Road is an album best enjoyed when listeners want a break form the loud brashness of an electric blues set, and instead want to enjoy a more quiet and intimate blues experience.
Just got another STELLAR review-this time in Blues Blast Magazine!!!
” Hailing from Florida’s West Coast, Franc Robert offers up 11 original songs and 3 covers in this very traditional acoustic blues album. His finger picking and guitar work are superb. It’s just him and his guitar here as Robert bares it all in this production.
I found the guitar playing to be very solid and well done. His original songs are a breath of fresh air. Good topics, lyrics that are well thought out and, well, lyrical, and well-constructed. There are some very impressive new songs here that are outstanding. Robert also has an interesting approach to his vocals. He is sort of breathy and works at getting an old time, authentic sound. He sings predominantly though his head and one can almost hear his sinuses resonate as he gasps and wails out the lyrics. It’s a little odd at first but it grew on me!
The covers are St. James Infirmary, Mississippi Blues and Railroad Blues. The covers are pretty much straight up renditions of the traditional songs. He infuses his vocal style on all three; his voice begins to sound almost desperate with his breathy and interesting style here on the covers and on the originals. He shows he can play these tunes with the best of them on these covers.
I really preferred the original songs. The opening cut “Honey What’s Wrong” evokes the style of early Delta masters like Son House. He does this song orally, accompanied only with hand claps in a very old and cool style. The slide work on the title track that follows this is a stark contrast to the bare opening number and he plays his heart out. “Chihuahua Blues” is a somewhat humorous take on a song that reminded me of Robert Johnson. The next two cuts “These Low Down Blues” and “Dem Devil Bones”have a much more modern sound (perhaps the 50s and 60’s) have a more modern sound. “Mississippi On My Mind” and “Tax Time Blues” are more traditional; I enjoyed the latter statement on the IRS. “Travellin’ Bluesman” is a little more modernistic but “Treat Me Right” and “Never Felt More Alone” return back to the Delta. The closer, “Sunday Morning,” is a beautiful and inspirational slow finger picking instrumental that is just a joy.
I enjoyed Franc Roberts guitar work and his vocals grew on me after a few listens. He’s working to present his music in an authentic style. He’s written some excellent new songs and I think he’s got something here that acoustic fans will enjoy.”
Just got this in from Nathan Norgel of Wasser Prada (Germany)… this is the Google translation…
“After the ” Mulligan Stew ” with its Boxcar Tourists 2012, I had actually expected again on the new album by Franc Robert with a similar disc . But the materials posted in Chihuahua Blue Records “Ride The Iron Road ” is a classic case for : A man, his guitar and the blues. And the sounds in every note on the Mississippi Delta in the early period seen through the eyes of later generations .
Particularly clear is of course in the three classics of the album . 17493 The felt version of St. James Infirmary therefore comes as a crossroads of folk revival and hippie nostalgia . The “Mississippi Blues ” and the ” Railroad Blues” are also more innovated historically accurate as radical.
Today, the problems are of course other : Thus Franc Robert has no chance to compete against the dog on the lap of his beloved, even if he sings on the iron horse from the ride , it tends to bikes or trucks than the rattle of freight trains. And today the traveling bluesman is itself no longer safe from having to share his hard-earned money with the tax authority ( ” Tax Time Blues “).
What makes it particularly interesting for Guitar Fans “Ride The Iron Road ” , is the large variety of historical instruments that Robert used here . From diverse Dobros to historical guitars by Martin from the 20’s they last. And Robert is a picker as well as with the Slide a great player .
A recommendation for fans of acoustic blues and musicians such as Joe Bottleneck , Greyhound George or the classics between Son House and Robert Johnson.”
Just got this in, the Top 25 on WEFT 90.1 (Champaign, IL)… we cracked the Top 10, clocking in at #9!!! Now THAT’S some good news!!!!
WEFT 90.1 FM Living Blues Top 25 Chart – April 2014
1. The Holmes Brothers – Brotherhood – Alligator
2. Bob Corritore – Taboo – Delta Groove
3. Jarekus Singleton – Refuse To Lose – Alligator Records
4. Johnny Drummer – Bad Attitude – Earwig Music
5. John Nemeth – Memphis Grease – Blue Corn
6. Nick Moss Band – Time Ain’t Free – Blue Bella Records
7. Damon Fowler – Sounds of Home – Blind Pig Records
8. Annie Mack – Baptized In The Blues – Self Released
9. Franc Robert – Ride The Iron Road – Blue Chihuahua
10. James Armstrong – Guitar Angels – Catfood Records
11. Terry Quiett Band – Taking Sides – Lucky Bag Records
12. Josh Hoyer and the Shadowboxers – Josh Hoyer and the Shadowboxers –
13. Joe Louis Walker – Hornet’s Nest – Alligator Records
14. Various artists – Blues Mix 13 Grown Folks Soul – Ecko Records
15. Harmonica Hinds – I’d Give You Anything If I Could – Wolf Records
16. Alex Jenkins & The Bombers – Voodoo You – Self Released
17. John & Sylvia Embry – Troubles – Delmark Records
18. Daunielle – Daunielle – Catfood Records
19. John Hammond – Timeless – Palmetto
20. Jimmy “Duck” Holmes & Terry “Harmonica” Bean – Twice As Hard – Broke &
21. Lisa Mann – Move On – Self Released
22. Bernie Pearl – Take Your Time – Bee Bump Music
23. Jim Suhler – Panther Burn – Underworld Records
24. Leo Welch – Sabougla Voices – Big Legal Mess Records
25. Rev. KM Williams – Jukin’ in the Holy Land – Nobody’s Fault Productions
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-Pauling Public Radio (NY State)
Sunnyland Steve’s Blues Show on KCSB 91.9 (Santa Barbara, CA)
CKRL 89.1 Rue D’Auteuil (Quebec City, Canada)
KRVM 91.9 Eugene, Oregon
Main Street Blues Podcast
Black On Blues Podcast (England)
WFYI 90.1 FM (Indianapolis, IN)
If you hear of any other stations/podcasts playing the tunes, let us know!!!
Just received the first review on “Ride The Iron Road” today, and WOW! What a review!!! I think I’ll just let Bill Wilson speak here…
Ride The Iron Road
Blue Chihuahua Records BCRDC-005
Ride The Iron Road finds Franc Robert going back to the basics…man and guitar facing an audience, no back-up, no second chances and no apologies. This is blues the way it was in the beginning and this is how Franc Robert has chosen to present himself now…raw, hardcore and real as the day is long. Robert is as good as any I’ve heard when it comes to slide guitar better than the vast majority. While I hate to draw comparisons I hear elements of John Hammond and more. This cat, great as he is, draws his strength from past experience and from the excitement of the moment. He is one of those guys who have honestly been around the block more than once. This is not some schoolboy “wannabe,” wanting to be the next Robert Johnson. This is someone who had been through the school of hard knocks, has had his share of bad times and a few good ones as well. He is an exceptional storyteller, telling his stories as only a man who has been there and done that can he weaves his tales in music and word, painting a vivid picture that stays with the audience long after the performance is over. The compositions on the disc are all written by Franc Robert with the exception of three traditional tunes reworked to fit his style with care taken to do justice to the originals. Robert plays with power and passion, telling his stories in such a way that the listener takes part in the memories, both good and bad. He sings of sin, redemption and social issues that take their toll on each and every one of us. What I ultimately find most interesting is the sheer honesty as he opens his heart, exposing his most private thoughts and feelings to the entire world. This is a true bluesman, one who sings from the deepest regions of his heart and soul. Seldom does an artist open himself up to this point but it is this honesty that gives his work its power and the ability to cut straight to the heart of his audience. With that said, I urge all of you who like blues in its purest form to look into it, give the samples listed below a listen and judge for yourself. This is one recording I can recommend highly and without reservation. From “Honey What’s Wrong?” which has a sound not unlike the early “field hollers” which were rhythmic and sung in the field to make the work move more smoothly, to the closing number, “Sunday Morning” which is an instrumental piece that says so very much without the use of words. I grow more impressed with Franc Robert with each new release. Whether solo or with his band, The Boxcar Tourists, this is blues through and through. – Bill Wilson
Link to original (review is at the bottom)…
We were just informed that Mulligan Stew is a Top Ten pick for 2012 USA releases, as chosen by the staff of the Blues Underground Network-amazing is the only words I can come up with!!!! Thanks so much for the huge vote of confidence!!!
Here’s the link: http://www.bluesundergroundnetwork.com/Top10Albums2012.html
Yep, it’s still climbing-Mulligan Stew is now #22 on the Roots Music Report Blues Chart, and #1 in Florida!! Great way to start a weekend!!!
2 GREAT reviews for Mulligan Stew came in while we were away playing the Carolina Downhome Blues Festival last weekend (sorry we didnt’ post about that, it’s been a mightmare around here lately!) First up is from Jon Vermilyea of Blues Underground Network who wrote, “For favorites on “Mulligan Stew”, I did not that easy of a time picking the top 3 as this is a heck of a solid album from beginning to end” you can read the whole review here.
The next review comes from ChefJimi Patricola of Blues 411 and Sirius XM Radio’s Bluestime Channel, who writes, “This all original twelve track release shows us that Mr. Robert is indeed familiar with the road and that it has a place in his blood as a working musician he tells us the story of that life and in doing so helps to find his inner voice. The road is long and he seems capable of handling the twists and turns of that road and progressing nicely in the future.” You can read this review here.