“You Get What You Give”
By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © February 2021
In addition to knowing about the sometimes sad and downright startling; to the sometimes uplifting and spiritual lyrics and songs on this project, there is a whole lot more that needs to be addressed. First and foremost is to offer recognition to Mr. Dave Keller for his insight, dedication, kindness, and generosity in putting the project together and pulling it off with such wonderful results. Dave will be donating ALL (capitalized for emphasis because it’s not just the proceeds) of the money generated from sales of the project to be equally split between five groups working for racial justice and equity. They are: NAACP Legal Defense Fund; Know Your Rights Camp; N’COBRA; Jus’ Blues Foundation; and Southern Poverty Law Center.
Additionally, all the musicians (whom I’ll give credit to later) donated their time and talents; photographers donated their photos; recording studios donated large amounts of time; graphic artists, publicists and radio promoters provided massive discounts; and my partner Mary Roby and I, of www.Mary4Music.com, are donating our time and services, as well.
In honor of their friendship, mentoring, kindness and selflessness, Dave has dedicated this project to the following black musicians: Nate Simmons, Reggie Taylor, Mighty Sam McClain, Fontella Bass, Robert Ward, Drink Small, Turner Foddrell, George Higgs, John Dee Holeman, Joe Moore, Brother Bob White, Johnny Rawls, and Darryl Carter.
“You Get What You Give”, features thirteen tracks – of which eleven were penned by Dave – that address the racial injustice running rampant in the United States. The album’s subtitle, “Duets”, refers to the many guests vocalists joining Dave on twelve of those tracks. In order of appearance they are: Annika Chambers; Carly Harvey; Annie Mack; Trudy Lynn, Johnny Rawls (lead and background); Joe Louis Walker; Dawn Tyler Watson; Chad Hollister (plus cajon); Brother Bob White; Katie Henry; and Toussaint St. Negritude. Musically, Dave Keller on electric guitar, acoustic guitar, National steel guitar and harmonica, is joined by: Ira Friedman on organ and piano; Alex Budney on bass; Jay Gleason and Larry Gann on drums; Mark Earley on tenor and baritone saxophones; Mario Perrett on tenor saxophone; Tom Palance and Garth Retallack on trumpet; Chris Robertson and Vince Allen on electric guitar; and Katie Sterling, Havvah Keller, Idalee Keller and April Caspari on backing vocals and handclaps.
Normally, to keep my reviews simplified, I generally touch on five or six of my favorite tracks off of the album. That said, since this is neither a normal or simple project, and in order to give all of these very talented vocalists the recognition they deserve, I will do my best to do just that.
“That Thing We Do” is a beautifully uplifting song about hope, faith and love. The duet with Carly Harvey and Dave Keller starts off with melancholic tales of their loneliness and despair before turning into a heartwarming happily ever after story. That’s what happens when two people who do the things they do to make each other happy meet. With her angelic voice, Dave teaming up with Carly was a match made in heaven. Musical highlights include a horn and organ enriched powerful rhythm and killer guitar leads.
Using only Ira Friedman (piano) and Tom Palance (trumpet) for the sullen and eerie musical backdrop, this track focuses on the the songs powerful vocals and stinging lyrics. It features Blues Music Award winners Trudy Lynn, Annika Chambers and Johnny Rawls, along with Annie Mack and Dave Keller, each mournfully singing a verse about “The Evil That Men Do”.
“Something Scratching At Your Door” is a rhythm fueled, guitar driven track that features Dave and Chris Robertson swapping solos and raising all kind of hell on the electric and slide guitars. Kind of like what that demon (yep, that’s what the something is that’s scratching at the door) will do if you let it in. Like the guys are on the guitars, Joe Louis Walker – showcasing some crazy range – is all over the vocals.
If this were a demo cut from an album titled “Dave Keller and Dawn Tyler Watson Go Gospel”, I’d buy it. Whether singing their own verses or harmonizing on them in true duet form, these two are a natural. This uplifting song is called “God Is Love/Love Is Everything” and if you’re wondering exactly how spiritual it is, just re-read the title. With strong support from the horns and the organ, Alex Budney and Jay Gleason are laying down some of the disc’s best rhythm on the bass and drums.
On this acoustic duet titled “Make It to Tomorrow”, inasmuch as it sounds like Dave and Chad Hollister are singing about a woman when they say…..”I don’t recognize this place, how did we end up here? Oh I miss your beautiful face, and I miss all your cheer”….. in some strange way I got the feeling they were addressing a much deeper situation.
“Precious Lord Take My Hand” (T. Dorsey) features vocalist and pianist Brother Bob White taking us straight to church. With Dave and Larry being very subtle on the guitar and drums, this song pretty much takes on the feeling of a solo. Brother Bob’s soulful and attention commanding vocals, along with his mostly soothing yet sometimes invigorating piano highlights are absolutely masterful.
Because I’m a sucker for beautifully sung love songs and because I’m also a sucker for old school fifties style blues and R&B, “The Kiss That I Want” genuinely carried me away. With the band totally into one of those stop what you’re doing, close your eyes and sway grooves, Dave and Katie Henry completely nail the vocals. With Katie being the only vocalist of the lot that I’m not familiar with, I will be looking to learn more about her.
The disc closes with I’m “Gonna Let It Shine” which is written and performed by former poet laureate, Toussaint St. Negritude. It features Dave, on National steel guitar and harmonica, backing the inspirational spoken word offerings of Toussaint.
Other tracks on “You Get What You Give” include: “One More Tear” with Annika Chambers; “You Get What You Give” with Annie Mack; “Your Kind Of Fool” with Trudy Lynn; “The Spark”; and “Land Of The Lonely” with Johnny Rawls;
To purchase a copy of “You Get What You Give” or in the unlikely event you are a blues radio host who has not received a copy for airplay, just get in touch with Dave at www.davekeller.com. When you do so, please tell him his buddy the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping the Blues Alive Recipient
“You Get What You Give”