So most of the blues I listen to is guitar driven ala Stevie Ray Vaughan, B.B. King and Michael Bloomfield and every so often there’s some harp but very few piano driven blues. Well, Victor Wainwright and the WildRoots changed that and put boogie piano jump blues on my musical charts! Their second album Lit Up is great. From the boogie woogie opening track ” Big Dog’s Running this Town” this Memphis based blues band had me! While the piano playing and vocals of Victor lead the way the WildRoots are no slouches! The album was produced by Victor’s co-writer and bassist Stephen Dees. Dees has been around the rock scene, serving as bassist and vocalist for the likes of Hall and Oates, Todd Rundgren, Pat Travers, and Foghat. His band Novo Combo landed him on the Billboard charts, and his original rock band “Bandees” received critical acclaim. Victor Wainwright and the WildRoots was born after Wainwright and Dees’ release in 2005 Piana from Savannah, Back Stage Pass Magazine said this about the album: Piana from Savannah”. “…it’s hard to follow the speed limit while this one’s playing… Pinetop Perkins would be proud.”
The WildRoots first CD, Beale Street to the Bayou, was released in September of 2009. The album climbed as high as #7 on the Root Music Report “Top 50 Blues”, #2 on the Blues Internet Charts, and #8 on the Tennessee Roots Charts. In addition, they hit #4 on Europe’s Collectif des Radio Blues Charts. Here’s what a few folks have said about the band and Victor:
“Victor Wainwright, wields a mighty left hand and a robust vocal delivery that brims with the very spirit of the blues. [Sheryl & Don Crow – Nashville Blues Society]
“Extremely diverse with great songwriting, exceptional arrangements, flawless playing and vocals soulful enough to make Otis Redding sit up and take notice” [Bill Wilson – Billtown Blue Notes]
“Victor’s piano playing is exciting and soulful, along with his strong vocals. Victor is a blues star on the rise. ” [Honey Piazza, Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers]
As I look through the track list, the second quote rings true, the album is diverse with some fanciful songwriting on tracks like “Subliminal Criminal”, “Weeds”, and “Pile of Blues” coupled with some straight blues like “Walk Away My Blues”. The tracks that are the most fun for me though are the tracks where Victor’s boogie woogie piano takes center stage “Little Ole’ Shack” and “Honky Tonk Heaven”. But then there’s “Dixie Highway” and “Coin Operated Woman” and of course the title track “Lit Up”. Hell once again they’re all good!
The rest of the WildRoots are Greg Gumpel on guitar, and Ray Guiser & Patricia Ann Dees on saxophones all were with the band on the first album, while Billy Dean takes over the drums on Lit Up.
Here’s Victor performing “Honky Tonk Heaven”!