Chocolate Thunder (aka Linda S. Rodney), vocals; Max Hightower, harmonica, piano and guitar; Frank Wilkie, bass guitar; Steve Keeter, keyboards; Shane Pruitt, lead guitar; Tez Sherard, drums; Rikki Hicks, percussion; Rudy "Blue Shoes" Wyatt, piano; Mac Arnold, bass.
All the songs on this CD were written by Linda Rodney, known as Chocolate Thunder, and music written by Max Hightower (music on one cut was written by Shane Pruitt and Tez Sherard) with the exception of the Gershwin composition, "Summertime."
The first two cuts, "Hey You There" and "When A Man Says I Do," are pure blues. Rodney's arrangement of "Summertime" is exceptionally original with unusual phrasing and fine harmonica support by Max Hightower---it is the outstanding cut on this CD. "Twice Happy" is a hauntingly beautiful examination of true love the second time around. Rodney wrote "Russell City" in a vibrant tribute to the once-renowned California blues community where she made her California debut appearance at the Hayward-Russell City Blues Festival several years ago. "Beggin' Blues" features some good tinkling piano along with Rodney's lusty vocalizing. The percussion support on "Get This Monkey Off My Back" is riveting with pleading voicing by Rodney. The other outstanding cut on this CD is "Carolina Blue," a slow intriguing ballad.
The title cut, "Barking Up The Wrong Tree," is a delightful downhome blues tune. "Somebody's Been Ah Listening" features Max Hightower's melodious harmonica playing and great scat phrasing by Rodney. The last cut, "My Mule" is a country-blues offering with Hightower playing guitar.
The sensuous maturity shown on this first effort is just a glimmer of things to come from one of the most exciting new talents on the blues scene---Chocolate Thunder. This South Carolina lady oozes blues. She is definitely a Southern Wonder and if you like blues, this CD is a winner.
by Dorothy L. Hill
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