Monday, May 30, 2011
Dr. Don's Double Dose feat Don Hopkins & Rob Grosser - Conjure Bag
11 - St. James Infirmiry
12 - Thats a Rockin Good Way
13 - Same Thing
14 - I Was So Wrong
15 - Keep Your Hands off Her
Two men: one drum kit, one piano, and one voice.
Yet they can sound like a whole band as they tear through their earthy mix of gospel, boogies, country blues, jug band and soul numbers.
Nothing seems lacking, the bass lines are there, the easy going infectious beat, the expressive solo passages and the incessant piano riffs filling in around those blues drenched vocals of Dr. Don Hopkins.
All of this from within an effortless rootsy groove that is as solid as you get.
One advantage of this paring of piano and drums, is that it allows Don to call up any one of the vast number of songs he has gathered over the years and made his own. He doesn't have to worry about a guitarist, for example, not knowing the chord changes. And once the flow of songs gets going there's no telling where this Double Dose duo will take you. Along the way you'll be hearing a virtual history of African-American piano, drum and vocal styles: ragtime, boogie woogie, jug band, stride, jazz, gospel and funky New Orleans rhythm & blues.
Generally good time boogie and New Orleans rhythms predominate with many of the classics of Fats Domino, Leadbelly, Lonnie Johnson, Brownie McGee, Professor Longhair thrown in. All of them good-time, foot-stompin', piano boogie, party music. Double Dose are also known to launch into well known singalongs by artists like Otis Redding, Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Sam Cooke, Little Richard. The track selections on their new CD "Conjure Bag" give a hint at the great variety a Double Dose performance is capable of.
Recorded live in an intimate venue in Sydney earlier in 2004, Conjure Bag sees Hopkins and Grosser deliver tunes from right across the African-American roots spectrum, as Hopkins explains: "Ain't Gonna Worry My Mind sounds like it could be country, gospel or soul ? it's from George Jones. You've Gotta Reap, that's Eddie Boyd, who is a piano player, who was big in Chicago. Susie Q is from the first Sonny Boy Williamson, from the 1930s. Then Hush and Beautiful City are two pre-Gospel, spirituals. Don't You Leave Me Here is very early country blues, which is imitating finger-picking guitar, which was actually imitating ragtime piano! There's always that interplay between guitar and piano I reckon in blues. Rockin' Good Way was Brooke Benton and Dinah Washington! Bit of a rumba feel. Same Thing - That's from the Memphis Jugband. So there's a lot of variety in sounds and rhythms.