R.L. Boyce Rocks The Echo With Music from New Album ‘Roll and Tumble’




Reviewer Craig Hammons with R.L. Boyce - Photo courtesy of Craig Hammons
Reviewer Craig Hammons with R.L. Boyce - Photo courtesy of Craig Hammons

Review by CRAIG HAMMONS

The house was a rocking and I didn’t bother knocking I just came on in to see Mississippi bluesman R.L. Boyce’s Los Angeles debut.  R.L. Boyce is in town to support the release of his fine new album “Roll and Tumble” on Waxploitation Records.   This juke joint was full of many fine acts but seeing this blues brother’s rare appearance was going to be a real treat.  R.L. Boyce plays Mississippi hill blues blending boogie riffs with a loose groove that keeps your foot taping.

When it was time for R.L. Boyce to take the stage he was cool, calm and smiling from ear to ear.  He sat down in his chair and was picking some random chords then asked the audience “are you alright” and off he went.

R.L . Boyce took us back home to the hill country of Como Mississippi where it all started.  It was like we were sitting on his front porch, sipping on some sweet tea or a shot of whiskey listening to this man play some hypnotic mesmerizing blues.  R.L. says “I just start, whatever hits me, I jump on it.”   R.L. Boyce’s improvised style means you may never hear the same song the same way twice.

RL Boyce - Photo courtesy of Craig Hammons
RL Boyce – Photo courtesy of Craig Hammons

The rhythm section of the talented and charming Sharde Thomas on drums and local Los Angeles bass man Ben Reddell kept the beat jumping in and around R.L.’s finger picking.  R.L. would flow from one song to the next, taking a brief moment to ask the audience “is it alright” before he went into the next song.

He played songs from the new album Roll and Tumble such as “Poor Black Mattie” and “Don’t Worry My Mind” but on some songs I think he was making up some lyrics on the spot.  He has a distinctive style full spontaneity and natural ability.   When he played “RL’s Boogie” you realized the blues is in this man and he didn’t have to sell his soul to the devil.   He is truly an elder statesman of the blues and he has a long past but R.L. Boyce’s best days are still ahead of him.

I talked with him after the show and what a kind and gracious gentleman he is.  He said was happy to be heading back home to hill country of Como Mississippi but found time to hang out with all his fans and friends.   I invite you to pick up the new album “Roll and Tumble” close your eyes, submit to the music and let its heartfelt sounds of these smooth intoxicating songs take you back to the hills of Mississippi.

There were two stages going at the same time so catching everybody was impossible.  But some other fine bands I was able to catch were:

Gethen Jenkins

Gethen Jenkiins is headed for stardom.  He leads a band of top notch musicians that have their chops down.  They were stage tight with a batch of well written songs about whiskey, women, hot rods and honky tonks.    He stays true to his roots of American music and delivers his songs in his powerful baritone of a voice with passion and honesty.  The stand out song of the night was “Strength of a Woman” a powerful ballad that made me cry in my beer.

Sarah Shook and The Disarmers

When this girl took the stage I knew she was serious.  She is hardcore country, full of energy and aiming to please.  At one point she was breaking my heart and then next she was kicking my ass.  Sarah is a county girl that knows what she wants and after seeing her performance tonight she knows how to get it.

Lovely Leyla - Photo by Craig Hammons
Lovely Leyla – Photo by Craig Hammons

Leyla McCalla

Leyla McCalla was one of the most unique acts of the day.  She is a cello player from New Orleans.  She plays her instrument with sincerity and integrity.  Her songs are a blend of poems, Haitian folk songs and her own material.  She is classically trained and tonight showed what an accomplished musician she is.  I felt she was very heartfelt in her delivery and was happy to see the strong reaction from the audience.

Leslie Stevens

This girl sings with the voice of an angel.  Leslie is a county pop sweetheart with a sound that is pleasing and seducing.  She felt right at home and made us feel right at home too.   She is a local girl who has a bright future with a backing band that makes her well written songs shine.  Check out her solo album “The Donkey and Rose”.

Well is was time for this cowboy to mosey on back to the ranch but not without trying some of the barbeque they had out on the patio from Shady Grove Foods.  The ribs were from another world.  After a tall PBR to wash it down it was now time to call my horse Urber to come pick me up.