If You Think It’s Hot in Here

After a brief foray into bluegrass, Nashville guitarist Mike Henderson has come back to the blues, which makes this CD a worthy companion to his 1990s releases on the Dead Reckoning label—First Blood (all killer, no filler) and Thicker Than Water—with his band, The Bluebloods. Featured here is a brace of Hound Dog Taylor songs, one of which—“Send You Back to Georgia” with pianist Kevin McKendree giving the 88s a serious workout—jumps out at you with as much energy as Taylor's “Give Me Back My Wig” on First Blood. Henderson is an outstanding guitarist and his atmospheric “standard” guitar sound comes to the fore on his rubato intro to Robert Johnson's “If I Had Possession,” on the relaxed title track, and on Sonny Boy Williamson's “Unseen Eye,” another cautionary tale from one of the blues' most innovative songwriters. But it's his slide guitar work that keeps me coming back, especially on the rocking roadhouse version of “Matchbox [Blues].” Great work throughout by McKendree, bassist Michael Rhodes and drummer Pat O'Connor. As an encore, Henderson duets on harmonica with McKendree on a slow blues.