“Step On It!”
The seven veteran Nashville and Muscle Shoals musicians in Big Shoes make it sound easy. Big Shoes features musicians who’ve performed with Bonnie Raitt, Van Morrison, Taj Mahal, Etta James, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Delbert McClinton, Levon Helm and dozens more. All of that roots, blues, R&B and soul experience shows up in Big Shoes’ second album, Step On It!
Seeing the Big Shoes members’ sideman credits, their well-oiled musicianship isn’t surprising. Pianist Mark T. Jordan, for instance, whose recording sessions include Morrison’s Tupelo Honey, steps out with curling keyboard riffs in the Professor Longhair–touched “Don’t You Do Me That Way.” Drummer and Step On It! producer Andy Peake kicks the song off with New Orleans–style flair and Will McFarlane’s slide guitar glides smoothly in.
From the first Step On It! song to the last, the musicians display their instinctive ensemble. “Don’t You Do Me That Way,” “Duplex Blues,” “There You Go” and every other selection that isn’t a slow song hooks into an easy-to-roll-with groove.
While Big Shoes’ members’ individual sideman credits say much about where they’re coming from, the band in total comes off as a natural successor to such rootsy collectives as the Allman Brothers Band, Little Feat and the Band. Big Shoes would fit comfortably, too, on a bill with New Orleans’ subdudes.
The album’s 11 original songs include the Muscle Shoals–influenced country-soul ballad, “The Last One to Leave,” featuring Jordan’s churchy organ solo. Going the extra mile for authenticity’s sake, the producers recorded the horns heard in another slow song, “Too Early for the Blues,” at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals.
Because Big Shoes’ stellar musicianship is a given, the big Step On It! revelation is the band’s exceptional songwriting. Every song is an original, either solely composed or co-composed by the band members. Big Shoes delivers the complete package: deftly made, expertly performed songs that are big fun.
Step On It!
This is a can’t miss project. We’re seeing a resurgence of the Muscle Shoals sound these days. Even The Swampers just released an album of lost tracks last month. The sound of Big Shoes has plenty of that river city’s sound but stretches beyond into New Orleans, Memphis, and across a breathtaking litany of artists that its band members have supported. For example, keyboardist Mark T. Jordan graced Van Morrison’s Tupelo Honey and Bonnie Raitt’s Road Tested, among many other albums. Guitarist Will McFarlane, who resides in Muscle Shoals, has contributed to albums by Levon Helm, Joss Stone, Bonnie Raitt, and Bobby “Blue” Bland. He hooks up with The Swampers often too. Superb lead vocalist Rick Huckaby works often in sessions on Music Row. Together with the other four band members, the dizzying list of employers surpasses those already mentioned to include Taj Mahal, Delbert McClinton, Etta James, and too many others to mention. Suffice it to say, this Nashville-based seven-piece unit knows a few things about roots, blues, and R&B. All 11 tracks were written or co-written by a band member.
These guys formed a band for their love of music, collective experience, and having fun. You can detect that immediately with the tongue-in-cheek humor imbued in the opening track, “Duplex Blues.” “There You Go” shows their funky side and they bring it all down for the soulful ballad “The Last One to Leave.” “Too Early for the Blues,” with Brad Guin and Ken Warren guesting on horns, could be straight out of B.B. King’s repertoire. “Don’t You Do Me That Way” gives Jordan a chance to put his New Orleans piano chops to work.
“Walked Out the Front Door,” a Jordan co-write, first appeared on Bonnie Raitt’s Home Plate album. The horns return for “Ain’t Nobody Loves You Like Me” and they conclude with the tasty “Honey Pie.” Strains of The Band, Delbert, and Little Feat filters in every so often. That’s what you get when you mix the contemporary roots music coming out Nashville with the classic sounds of masters – just damn good American music.
Reflections in Blue
Step On It
Big Little Records BLR17002
Step On It was recorded at Biglittle Recording, in Nashville, with the horns recorded at Fame Recording, in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. When you bring together a group of musicians/friends with a sincere love for rhythm and for the blues, and a combined resume that includes performing with most everyone who provided the soundtrack of the lives of those of us who have been around the block a time or two.....
Step On It is funky, soulful and deeply rooted in blues. The influences of the band members becomes more and more evident with every time I listen to it. It should be mentioned that all tunes on the album were written by the members of the band. In all honesty, after listening to this one for a week or more, I have still not tired of it...in fact, I like it more now than I did with the first listen. Blues, R&B, a touch of Country and more is blended here, for a sound in which, if I listen closely enough, probably has elements of everything I felt drawn to as I was growing up. This is music worth owning...the sort of thing that will never get old. -Bill Wilson
Posted by dvcrow56
STEP ON IT!
BIGLITTLE RECORDS BLR–17002
The seven guys who comprise the band Big Shoes have impressive credentials that spread from Nashville down to Muscle Shoals, and you could stock a radio station with just the stuff they’ve played on for other folks. They combine their immense talents on their latest release, “Step On It!,” for Biglittle Records
The guys of Big Shoes have so much talent it is insane, and their credentials are, as the Wolf used to say, “long as my right arm.” They sound great on their own, tho, and cordially invite you to “Step On It!,” for a guaranteed good time!
THE RUST BELT CHRONICLES
Big Shoes Release New Album of "Step On It!"
By: matheson kamin
What happens when former sidemen for some of the most famous musical artists find themselves without something to do? They end up discovering each other and decide on doing something together. So is the case for a band called Big Shoes, a band of former sidemen situated down in Nashville that have performed with the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Van Morrison, Taj Mahal and more.
The band is currently celebrating the release of their second album. The newest release from Big Shoes is entitled Step On It!.
Throughout the eleven tracks that make up the 2018 release of Step on It, the band creates music that bring to mind styles made famous by the same types of musicians that the individual players in the group used to back up. Because of that type of influence within each and every player in Big Shoes, it should come as no surprise that the band’s new album would be both a solid offering and very appealing to fans of older Rock and Roll music.