“Here I Come”
Publicity: Blind Raccoon
By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro
Although “Here I Come” is his debut release, Jose Ramirez is by no means the new kid on the block. In actuality, between his U. S. tour and his two European tours, he’s not only been around the block a few times but he’s been around the world that many times, as well. I recently had the pleasure of seeing Jose perform several times during the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN a few months back. The first two times were during his quarter and semi-final rounds and the third was at the finals, when he wowed the packed Orpheum Theater crowd with a killer performance that won him second place.
Believing in making a strong first impression, Jose Ramirez pulled out all the stops when it came to making “Here I Come”. Placing himself in extremely good hands, Jose chose blues guitar legend Anson Funderburgh as his producer, and as the saying goes, ‘that’s all she wrote’. Anson brought Jose to Austin, teamed him up with Grammy Award winning engineer Stuart Sullivan and hooked him up with some of the best studio musicians in the business. That said, joining Jose Ramirez on vocals and guitar are: Jim Pugh on Hammond organ and piano; Wes Starr on drums; Nate Rowe on bass; Anson Funderburgh on guitar; and The Texas Horns which consists of: Mark “Kaz” Kazanoff on tenor sax; John Mills on baritone sax; and Al Gomez on trumpet. Of the disc’s eleven tracks, nine are Jose Ramirez originals.
The disc opens with the title track “Here I Come”, a smooth foot tappin’, knee slappin’ shuffle featuring a fantastic piano led rhythm. While name dropping some of the blues legends he claims to have taught him to sing and bend those strings, by stating “here I come, on my way, be ready for what I have to say…….”, Jose’s also serving notice that he’s now ready to be a part of those who will keep it all going.
“I Miss You Baby” (Freddie Simon) is a fifties style blues ballad originally done by T-Bone Walker. Although the track showcases the magnificently soulful and emotional sides of Jose’s vocals, the two minute mid-song instrumental stopped me in my tracks. Between the combination of the sensitive guitar leads; the delicate piano and organ highlights; the heartbeat of the horns; and the oh so soothing rhythm; all I could do was just sit back and smile.
Now before all you ladies reading this think “awwww, how sweet”, when you hear the title of this track, let me warn you about jumping to conclusions. “One Woman Man”, is more about what Jose isn’t rather than what he is. Musically, the song’s just as bold and if you think that line may sting, you just gotta hear the guitar licks.
For so many reasons, “Goodbye Letter” could very well be the disc’s best track. The name alone indicates it’s gonna be loaded with the blues and, for over seven-and-a-half minutes, that’s exactly what it is. Close to half of those minutes feature Jim Pugh masterfully doing his thing on the piano and showing why he’s been every recognizable name in the genre’s go to guy; and the other half feature Jose belting the hell out of the blues both vocally and with scorching blues guitar licks, while displaying that he’s just not coming…..he’s here!
“The Way You Make Me Feel” is a soul oozing, uptempo, feel good song that makes you just want to start singing along with it. As a matter of fact, as good as this woman seems to be making Jose feel, he just might become that one woman man after all. With Wes and Nate nailing it on the drums and bass, and those Texans nailing it on the horns, this one’s another rhythm rich winner.
“Three Years” is just one of the two tracks featuring Anson on guitar and where I might normally say something like “too bad I’d have loved to hear more of him”, he’s got Jose so on top of his game and his production work has shone on every track.
With all that’s been written about Robert Johnson, one would be hard pressed to find anything in those facts or fables that even remotely describes him as “funky”. That said, Jose and the guys do an interesting job of funking up Robert’s “Traveling Riverside Blues”.
Other tracks on this outstanding project include: “Gasoline And Matches”; “As You Can See”; “Waiting For Your Call”; and “Stop Teasing Me”.
In a recent conversation with Jose, he told me that he had submitted a copy of “Here I Come” to Blues Blast Magazine in order to be eligible for their annual Blues Blast Awards. Knowing that, I’m thinking he should be a lock for at least a nod in the “New Artist Debut” and the “Rising Star” categories. Good luck my friend!
To find out more about Jose Ramirez just go to www.joseramirezblues.com/ – and should you have not yet received your copy of “Here I Come” for airplay, just contact Betsie Brown at www.blindraccoon.com. Wherever you go and whomever you talk to, please tell them that the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping the Blues Alive Recipient