Bet on the Blues

Paul Oscher

Familiarity breeds contempt, they say, and prolonged exposure to any musical genre can dull the appetite, making a new recording seem like the same old shit, predictable, tired, and devoid of invention. There are lots of blues guys working those depleted fields, and though most of the players are skilled, they often fail to find much new to say, or any new crops to grow in that overworked soil. But as devotees of the genre know, Paul Oscher is the real deal, a former member of Muddy Waters’ band. When it comes to blues bona fides, that’s as good as it gets. And Muddy would be proud of this collection by his former sideman. Oscher’s latest release kicks off with some vigorous boogie woogie piano on “Wee Baby Blues,” a cut that leads into a surprising version of the Thelonious Monk classic, “Round Midnight,” a jazz song seldom done by blues guys. That’s just for starters. The title track is a story Oscher also shared during his last appearance here at the Sierra Nevada Big Room, a memory of playing Three-card Monte with harp legend Little Walter. Can the blues survive? When guys like Oscher are at work, you can bet on it.