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Andy T - Nick Nixon Band, 'Numbers Man,' Blind Pig Records (REVIEW)

By Mike Greenblatt m.greenblatt@classicalite.com on Oct 03, 2015 12:22 PM EDT
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Andy T hit Nashville in 2008 from Southern California. Three years later, he watched bedazzled as Nick Nixon sang some gospel and he knew he had found what he was looking for. Numbers Man (Blind Pig Records), produced by Texas guitarist Anson Funderburgh, is the follow-up to their 2013 Drink Drank Drunk debut. The good Lord's music will just have to wait.

Nixon had been around seemingly forever. He knew Jimi Hendrix from being in a band with one of Jimi's drummers, Billy Cox, in the '60s. The three would jam and Jimi could frequently be seen walking the streets of Music City with his beloved guitar. In 1995, Nixon, Cox and Elvis Presley's original lead guitarist, Scotty Moore, recorded the almost-hit single, "Over 50 Blues." Now he's over 70 but that phlegm-filled voice is still belting out the blues with just a hint of gospel. Think Jimmy Witherspoon crossed with Bobby "Blue" Bland. (He even once flirted with singing opera.) Nixon, a Nashville local, was in that town's first integrated band, King James and The Sceptres. He's recorded for the legendary Chess label in Chicago and has produced many a gospel act.

Andy T is T-Bone Walker reborn. His jazzy lead guitar is the perfect foil to peek in and around those gruff Nixon vocals. He's the consummate string maestro and can play in a number of regional styles from Texas Swing to Chicago Urban to West Coast jump and Louisiana Swamp. After 23 years as an engineer in the aerospace industry (all the while playing roadside Cali bars), he quit his day job in '97 to rock with Smokey Wilson and Guitar Shorty before getting his own band together.

 The pairing of these two is a match made in honkytonk heaven. T can hit those notes just like Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown on "Gate's Salty Blues." Their co-writing is humorous, incisive and built for comfort, not for speed. Producer Funderburgh chips in with some hot licks on "Shut The Front Door." Fabulous T-Bird Kim Wilson blows some hot harp on "Sundown Blues." The Texas Horns add oomph. And the little frills like a Hammond B-3 here and a sprightly piano there add spice.

You can see this kinetic action-ball of a band Oct. 10 in Helena, AR, Nov. 6 in Phoenix, AZ and Nov. 8 in Sierra Vista, AZ.

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