I’m Here Baby

This is Phoenix-based (but Texas-born) bluesman Pearson’s first nationally released CD—he had an earlier Blue Witch CD out six years ago—and the 60-something vocalist appears to be ready to step out into the big time. Backed by a Phoenix club’s house band plus a guest list that includes guitarists Ike Turner and Kid Ramos, B-3 master Joey DeFrancesco, harpist Johnny Dyer and others, Pearson mostly rasps and hollers his way through 11 songs with mixed results. Producer/club owner/harmonicist Bob Corritore is no stranger to the blues and, if Pearson’s vocals aren’t always quite up to the task, the band he lined up certainly is. Although there are 21 musicians listed, some are only on one track. Turner gets two shots, his best one on “The Highway Is Like a Woman” with the line, “[It’s] got real soft shoulders and dangerous curves.” DeFrancesco gets in some good licks, too, making this one of my two favorites. The absolute stunner here is the classic “Tin Pan Alley” with Pearson, et al., in excellent form. A twelfth entry is a talking reminiscence with his cousin W.C. Clark that features a very soulful tenor player.