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The Tate’s Hell Blues Band
East Side SlimBy East Side Slim

The Tate’s Hell Blues Band

The Tate’s Hell Blues Band
Sooped Up Southern Boys

Bumpy Road Records, 2009

The Tate’s Hell Blues Band is a Florida Panhandle-based (Apalachicola, FL) 3-piece band that plays a potent mix of blues and blues-rock that is dance-friendly and flat-out fun. They write and play their own material as well as choice cover tunes. The band consists of Miles Creamer on bass & vocals, C. S. Holt on guitar & vocals, and Royce Johns on drums & vocals. C. S. Holt is the primary songwriter and vocalist for the band, and his soulful vocals and stinging guitar lines are a potent mix. The rhythm section of Creamer and Johns drives the band along in fine fashion. The CD art may lead you to the conclusion that these 3 musicians are rough-and-tumble characters (and they may well be) but don’t let that dissuade you from checking out this album. There is a glut of self-produced CDs out there nowadays, and you never know what you’ll really be getting when you slap one in your CD player. But this one, Sooped Up Southern Boys, is a pleasant surprise – it’s a solid, enjoyable effort that the guys should be very proud of.

The Songs: (all songs by C. S. Holt, unless otherwise specified)

1. Red Hot
--The CD leads off with this fast-paced boogie blooze tune about a fine looking woman who has tastes to match. Don’t seek this girl out if you’re on a beer budget, as she’s looking for a champagne daddy.

2. Starting To Like The Pain
--This tune is slower, riding along with a mid-tempo shuffle groove. This is a really nice song, with clever lyrics about how a certain bad girl has an effect on the singer that he just can’t get away from – even if he needs to for his own good. For an idea of how this song actually sounds, think very early ZZ Top – from the timeframe of their 1st, or maybe 2nd, album. Or, maybe older Jimmy Thackery - minus the guitar pyrotechnics.

3. I’ve Been Lied To
--This is another shuffle-based tune, set to a little quicker tempo than the last cut. I like the drum work on this cut, as well as on the CD as a whole. The boys aren’t going for a wall-of-sound on this cut, or on the CD itself, instead choosing to go for a less-is-more sound where you clearly hear each instrument and the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. I like the vibe this band achieves very much.

4. No Doubt
--We’ve got a slow blues here, and it sounds very nice. Yep, it’s another song about a girl, but aren’t most slow blues about girls? Either you want one you can’t have, have one you don’t want, or best of all, have one that is so good you want to shout it out to the world . In any case you can get a good song out it!

5. I’m Gonna Change
--Uh-oh, in this one the guy is doing wrong and not treating his woman right. He’s out running and drinking with the boys a little too much, and realizes he better get to changing his ways if he wants to keep that good girl he is lucky enough to have – for now. The tune itself is a mid-tempo shuffle blooze.

6. When I Found You
--This cut mines a more contemporary blues vein, still in a mid-tempo, and once again about a girl – this one a keeper.

7. She Looked A Lot Like You
--This isn’t really a blues tune, but it’s probably my favorite cut on the CD. It’s basically a pop tune wrapped in biker leathers, and it sounds great. It’s a mid-tempo love song (about one of those girls you want to shout out about) with a very nice, very real lyric line and harmony vocals on the choruses. I would have liked to have heard more of the harmony vocals on the CD, as it worked well here.

8. Sooped Up Southern Boy – (Miles Creamer)
--This set-ending bloozer is a biographical tune of sorts about the band’s love of being sons of Florida.

The Verdict:

The Tate’s Hell Blues Band has a nice little CD on its hands here, with little referencing the fact that the running time of the CD is just less than 29 minutes. While it may be short in length, it’s also not populated with a bunch of filler tracks. The majority of the songs are mid-tempo blooze tunes, meaning a combination of blues and barroom/roadhouse boogie and rock (think Thorogood, pre-MTV ZZ Top, Nighthawks, Thackery, etc…). In my book that is a good thing, as I grew up with those types of bands and enjoy them to this very day. I’m assuming C. S. Holt performed the lead vocals as he wrote 8 of the 9 songs, but whoever the vocalist is, he possesses a perfect voice for this type of material: deep tone, a little gritty, expressive and soulful. You won’t find loads of fancy guitar licks here, either. Rather, you’ll hear solid rhythm playing with occasional short, to-the-point solos moving quickly back into the song. The musical star of the show may be the drummer, as he has a nice shuffle touch and works the cymbals well – a bit of a lost art anymore, really. Also, most of the lyrics tend toward the clever side, avoiding many of the old blues and blue-rock clichés. For a nice example of this, check out “No Doubt”. Alright, it’s time to rate this bad boy; I’m giving an STLBluesometer rating of 3.50 to Sooped Up Southern Boys from The Tate’s Hell Blues Band. Guys, next time out can how about a little bit longer CD; this is a good one and it ended too soon.

Lee Howland - aka "East Side Slim"

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