" The final result is more than just a very cool tribute album; it's one of the most
satisfying blues sets this year. " John Morthland
Two years ago, the rollicking tribute album On the Jimmy Reed Highway pointed the storied career of singer/guitarist Omar Kent Dykes in a new direction. That record, cut in Austin and one of the most popular blues releases of 2007, united Dykes with guitar master Jimmie Vaughan and a cadre of talented Reed devotees. Together, they celebrated the music of an acknowledged post-war blues hero. For his new Big Town Playboy, Dykes summoned many of the same Austin session players (including Vaughan, guitarist/producer Derek O'Brien and singer Lou Ann Barton) and teamed them with a pair of bona fide blues harp legends, Lazy Lester and James Cotton, on a half-dozen tracks. The all-star lineup delivers another shuffling, satisfying selection of classic American blues.
The musical scope has been broadened this time around to include post-war gems made famous by John Lee Hooker, Ivory Joe Hunter, Smokey Smothers and Jimmy McCracklin. Dykes revisits the Jimmy Reed songbook on three tracks and shines the spotlight on Reed's often overlooked partner Eddie Taylor, who scored his biggest solo hit with "Big Town Playboy" in 1956. The crack band (with Ronnie James and Wes Starr returning as rhythm section) also wades into classic Excello Records swamp blues on a pair of titles by Slim Harpo and Lightnin' Slim respectively. Nearly a half century after he blew harp behind Lightnin' Slim, Lazy Lester shows he can still wail on "Hello Mary Lee." It's just one of many memorable moments on this expertly crafted disc.
Originally from McComb, Mississippi and making his musical home in Austin, Omar Kent Dykes has been enriching the international blues scene for over three decades. He first came to notoriety as frontman of Omar & The Howlers and continues to tour at home and abroad. As a singer and guitar player, Dykes is as tough and gritty as they come, and always has at least one foot planted firmly on traditional blues turf. In continuing to honor the legacy of his elders on Big Town Playboy, he has dedicated himself to making music as timeless as the original.