Whiteboy James & the Blues Express

Extreme Makeover

There’s a proliferation of albums issuing from blues players most people never heard of, stars of their own local blues scenes who can put out some good sounds for shuffling drunks who turn out for their Friday night gigs. When these guys put out albums, they tend to sell a handful of copies off the table that gets set up at those performances, but it’s hard as hell for talented musicians to gain attention or traction in times like these when competition for the entertainment dollar is so fierce. And, in a genre that is essentially derivative, it’s difficult for blues guys to create a distinctive sound that sets ’em apart from the crowd. But Whiteboy James does stand out on this album, mostly because he’s got such a keen sense of humor. On songs like “Big Butted Women” and “Night Train Wine,” he can have you dancing and chuckling at the same time. But he’s no novelty act. He’s a vocalist with his own sound, and he’s got a cracklin’ band behind him here, with solid guitar work by Scott Abeyta (founder of the band’s label, Rip Cat Records). This album might not make James famous, either, but if you seek it out, he will show you a good time.