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Tom Walbank: Live (Self-Released)

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Tucson's resident badass bluesman, Tom Walbank, has compiled a digital-only release of live, all-original material. Drawn from several years of live recordings, these 10 tracks represent some of the best of his songs, recorded raw, dirty and rocking. It's just Walbank, his guitar, voice and harmonica, with Tasha Bundy sitting in on drums on two tracks.

Walbank's original material here is essentially indistinguishable from the covers that he performs live by masters like John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, etc. The man's a natural bluesman, as anyone who has seen him tear it up around here for the last 12 years knows. His raw, less-is-more approach to playing the blues makes him unique among legions of flashy players.

The rhythmic, hypnotic groove of the opening track, "Mississippi Dream," shows off how completely Walbank has absorbed the brutally basic and mesmerizing music of John Lee Hooker. On "Howlin' Tomcat" (with Bundy on drums), Walbank seems to channel Elmore James' monster slide guitar.

Elsewhere, he churns his way through "Bullwhip Boogie," his guitar seemingly on fire, and "Just Can't Seem to Track You Down" features loads of Walbank's famous, fabulous harmonica-playing, as does "Tamp It Down Solid." The slow and dirty "Sinkin' Down Blues" showcases more of his slide guitar, and Walbank's show-stopping, signature solo harp number, "Whoopin,'" is absurdly great.

This satisfying collection is rounded out with three shorter numbers: "Junior," "Whirlwind Mama" and "Blues for John Lee."

The album is available at tomwalbank.bandcamp.com.

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