Robert Hill & Joanne Lediger
Publicity: Blind Raccoon
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © October 2022
The latest release from Robert Hill & Joanne Lediger, who have been performing and touring together for fifteen years, is titled Revelation. For the project, vocalist Joanne Lediger and partner Robert Hill – on guitar, vocals, harp and keys, are joined by: Paulina Hill, Robert’s daughter, on vocals; Steve Gelfand on bass; Frank Pagano on drums and percussion; and Ed Alstrom on Hammond B3 organ. Of the disc’s eleven traditional Gospel Blues tracks, four are Robert Hill originals.
Although “John the Revelator” is often credited as “Traditional” (either no one knows who really wrote it or too many people claim to have) when it comes to its composer, Blind Willie Johnson is credited as being the first to record it, back in 1930. Since then, if we all had a dollar for everyone else who’s performed it, we’d all be quite wealthy. That said, on the song that music critic Thomas Ward claims is “one of the most powerful songs in all of pre-war acoustic music…..”, this rendition is one of the most powerful I’ve had the pleasure of listening to. Between Robert’s muscular guitar leads and his haunting harp leads; the robust rhythm groove Steve and Frank are in; and Joanne’s compelling lead vocals combined with the angelic harmony vocals she and Paulina are belting out; everything about this performance is absolutely masterful. Take a well-deserved bow!
I could be wrong, but I don’t think using the words ‘up-tempo’ and ‘dance floor filler’ in conjunction with anything that Tom Waits has ever done would be appropriate. On the other hand, up-tempo is the perfect word to describe this dance floor filling version of his “Way Down the Hole”. The bass, drums and percussion work Steve and Frank are banging out are creating a remarkable rhumba rhythm; with his guitar work, Robert’s got a lot of his own rhythm thing going on until, of course, when he switches to some stinging leads and smoking slides; and on the vocals, along with her and pop doing the backups, Paulina is doing a super soulful job telling us how to and where to keep the devil.
This original of Robert’s, “Jesus by The Riverside” is the consummate tent revival song. The all-out percussion – led by smokin’ tambourine (yes, I said that) – and fierce twangy guitar leads, will have you clapping your hands, stomping your feet and shouting out “hallelujah”, each and every time Joanne repeatedly belts out the catchy “Jesus by the riverside” verse.
On another of Robert’s originals – “Pay One Way or Another” – the very soulful Joanne may sound a bit reminiscent of TV evangelists like Jim & Tammy Faye Baker, Jimmy Swaggart, Oral Roberts, Billy Graham or perhaps even the iconic Reverend Billy Sol Hargis (Don Imus) from WNBC radio fame. That’s right, you can either pay them now or pay the devil later. Lyrically, it’s a song that throws shade on all those above-mentioned personalities and the people who actually, and literally, bought their spiel; and musically, it’s a smokin’ blues ballad with strong organ led rhythm and burning blues guitar licks.
Speaking of that satanic creature, on another of his originals, Robert would like to let you know that if you want to live a good life and do the best you can, don’t be “A Devil’s Fool”. With a driving rhythm behind him, and some backup vocal support from Paulina, Robert – belting out the lead vocals and rockin’ it on guitar and piano, takes this one and runs with it.
The disc closes with the highly inspirational, “Jesus on The Mainline” (traditional). Vocally, as they take us to church, Robert, Joanne and Paulina do a fabulous job of reminding us that all you’ve got to do is tell Jesus what you want because He’s always on the line and anxious to take your call.
Other tracks on the very well done and uplifting Revelation include: “Run On”; “Soul Of A Man”; “Nobody’s Fault but Mine”; “Samson and Delilah”; and another of Robert’s originals titled “Preacher Blues”.
To find out more about Robert Hill & Joanne Lediger, just go to – www.roberthillband.com. Remember, whomever you contact, please tell them their friend the Blewzzman sent you.
“The Blues Is My Passion And Therapy”
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 “Keeping The Blues Alive” Award Recipient