Press Reviews

Step On It! Album Reviews

 What some critics are saying about BIG SHOES' "STEP ON IT!":

"Ranging  from psychedelia-tinged southern funk…to straight-up B.B. King,…this  ensemble also boasts sweet strains of the Allmans, Little Feat, and the  Band winding brilliantly through guitar from Will McFarlane, Kenne  Cramer and Rick Huckaby -- with Huckaby's vocal resemblance to the great  Levon Helm a huge bonus. Seasoned veterans at their best." (Rick  Allen/Vintage Guitar)

"3***  seven top-grade Nashville and Muscle Shoals pros…They aim to please --  and do -- with a…sound incorporating blues, soul, New Orleans r&b,  Little Feat-style rock and everything else they soaked up in service of  Bonnie Raitt, Delbert McClinton and many others." (Frank-John  Hadley/DownBeat)

"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...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...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." (John  Wirt/Offbeat) 

""This is a can’t miss project.  We’re  seeing a resurgence of the Muscle Shoals sound these days...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...Suffice it to say, this  Nashville-based seven-piece unit knows a few things about roots, blues,  and R&B...These guys formed a band for their love of music,  collective experience, and having fun...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."  (Jim Hynes/Making A  Scene)

"If ever an itch  creeps in for some Los Angeles night crawling with Little Feat, or maybe  those boogalooing nights with the Radiators way down yonder, the  current music scene seems to be missing a cog or two. Fear not. Big  Shoes are here to help fill those legendary shoes, and with a lineup of  Nashville and Muscle Shoals' finest they don't miss a single backbeat or  downstroke. The not-so-mellow fellows come ready to burn the house  down, and then they do it. There's plenty of pedigrees on their  bandstand, including guitarist Will McFarlane and keyboard king Mark T.  Jordan (both Bonnie Raitt alumni), along with five other players who are  Dixie-fried from note one. It's not possible to play with people like  Bobby 'Blue' Bland, Van Morrison, Etta James, and Delbert McClinton and  not get the boogie woogie barbecued inside. There is plenty of endless  frivolity bumped up  close to heartbreaking ballads on Big Shoe's second  album, proving that even if they have to put on one shoe at a time, as  do we all, once they have them on they're more than ready to knock down  the doors and boogie 'till the cows come home. Check them kicks." (Bill  Bentley/Bentley's Bandstand-Morton Report)

"Experience  is the operative word, when it comes to talkin’ ‘bout this group of  veteran session and sidemen known as Big Shoes...puts enough rhythm into  their blues, to turn Herman Munster into Fred Astaire…What we have here  is R&B and C&B presented with buckets of taste and soul...all  original and very listenable tunes...Because the grooves Andy [Peake]  and percussionist Bryan Brock lay down, are so freakin’ good, the tasty  and subtle production flourishes, may not be apparent to a first casual  listen. There is much to experience here in repeated listens...Every  song is a standout and had they been around when radio was king, just  their “The Last One To Leave” would have made them a legendary group."  (Ken Spooner/Elmore magazine)

"R&B swagger...packs a mighty wallop." (Skip Anderson/Nashville Scene)

"The  best elements of southern rock, blues, New Orleans, country and roots  music have met here to create a stimulating and enjoyable slice of  music. From the production, lyrics, guitars, keyboards and rhythm  section everything gels." (Greg 'Bluesdog' Szalony/BluesBlast)

"Big  Shoes is a seven-piece outfit that calls Nashville home but has  influences that include the deep groove of Muscle Shoals and the second  line bounce of New Orleans…a good listen from beginning to end." (Mark  Smith/Jazz & Blues Report)

"In  this age of autotuned dance pop, it’s refreshing to hear a bunch of  journeymen musicians from Nashville and Muscle Shoals digging into blues  and roots with real live instruments and vocals that haven’t been  computer-corrected for perfect pitch. Big  Shoes, a seven-piece band, features guitarist Will McFarlane and  keyboard player Mark T. Jordan, who at different times performed as  members of Bonnie Raitt’s band. The rest of the players have credits  that include work with Van Morrison, Delbert McClinton, Etta James, Taj  Mahal and Bobby 'Blue' Bland. Those  influences — and the great taste they suggest — show their colors  throughout the 11 original tunes on 'Step On It!.'" (Mike Cote/New  Hampshire Union Leader)

"stellar…Their sound  can deliver the mood of the best of classic blues flavored rock, taking  the form of people like Bob Seger, Bonnie Raitt, The Band…on top of all  the rocking blues sounds, the band can also bring on the very best of  sounds from funk, gospel and soul to the table…each track a true gem."  (Cascade Blues)

"talented journeyman musicians from Nashville and  Muscle Shoals…Step On It!  is red hot blues music." (Joe  Wolfe-Mazeres/Ear To The Ground)

"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...Needless  to say, there is not a single player among them who has not paid his  dues and honed his skills on a long, hard road. Those years of  experience are in evidence in every note...not to mention the phenomenal  tightness with which this unit plays. Step On It is  funky, soulful and deeply rooted in blues...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...This is music worth  owning...the sort of thing that will never get old."   (Bill  Wilson/Reflections In Blue)

"Seasoned  session and touring band musicians from Nashville, Tennessee and Muscle  Shoals, Alabama come together to fill the line-up of Big Shoes on the  recent release, Step on It!.  For their second studio album. Big Shoes (Will McFarlane-guitars, Mark  T. Jordan-keyboards, Andy Peake-drums, Rick Huckaby-vocals and guitar,  Kenne Cramer-guitars, Bryan Brock-percussion, Tom Szell-bass) honor Rock  ’n’ Soul traditions as they strut out Blues Rock to lay down the groove  for 'Give It to Me Now', slowly whip southern Rock into a funky stew  with 'Honey Pie', rise as bad news keeps falling in 'Too Early for the  Blues', and intro 'Dixie Melody' on boogie-woogie piano." (Danny  McCloskey/The Alternate Root)

"Keyboardist  Mark T. Jordan takes center stage on 'Dixie Melody' an original  instrumental, which mixes gospel piano with a hint of ragtime. The  vibrant 'Honey Pie' has the feel of a Little Feat track from the early  1970s. The band shows its versatility, ranging from the Rolling  Stones-influenced 'Ain't Nobody Loves You Like I Do'…to the B.B.  King-styled 'Too Early for the Blues'. Big Shoes is a musical democracy  with five band members writing songs and six members contributing lead  or backing vocals. Big Shoes and roots music prove to be a good fit."  (Tom Wilk/Icon Magazine)

"Big  Shoes is Nashville's kitchen-sink crew: a seven-man outfit flush with  veteran faculty who can range far and wide, capable of stylistically  coming at you with everything including the kitchen sink. That's a  compliment…14 tracks of collective Americana originality. The setlist  is entirely homemade, right down to 'Walked Out The Front Door' [Mark  T.] Jordan's heartbreaker that originally graced [Bonnie] Raitt's Home Plate in  1975. Lead vocalist Rick Huckaby sounds the part. His effortlessly  spot-on singing…rivals the solos for the spotlight in a beautifully  bummed-out 'The Last One To Leave'…At times, Big Shoes' melodious  esthetic even nods to Little Feat, from whom they were named. The Lowell  Georgian slide guitar greasing the playful quirks in 'Honey Pie' only  strengthens that likeness." (Dennis Rozanski/Baltimore BluesRag)

"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.'...a  guaranteed good time!" (Sheryl and Don Crow/The Nashville Blues Society)

"the  music on Step On It! grew on me the more I listened to it…The music  here is pretty much basic blues with some influences from Little Feat  (from whom the band got its name), The Allman Brothers, Bonnie Raitt and  the Neville Brothers...One of my favorites is the New Orleans-ish  'Don't You Do Me That Way,' with drummer Andy Peake starting off with  some effective second line drumming and later highlighted by tasty  Crescent City piano from Mark T. Jordan. Also very effective is the  soulful 'Ain't Nobody Loves You Like Me,' with a big brassy horn section  reminiscent of some of the great early soul recordings done in Muscle  Shoals, Alabama's Fame studio...Huckaby does his strongest vocal work  here and Will McFarlane tosses in nice slide guitar  work. 'There You  Go' is a strong mid-tempo funky tune, with hot guitar solos...the slow  blues of 'Too Early For The Blues, [features] a nice blues guitar solo  by Kenne Cramer, the composer of the song. 'Walked Out the Front Door'  may be familiar to some listeners from when it was covered by Bonnie  Raitt on her 'Home Plate' album. It was written by Big Shoes keyboardist  Jordan who provides splendid piano accompaniment on the tune. 'Step On  It!' gets wrapped up into a nice package with the closing number, 'Honey  Pie,' as its composer Cramer provides the guitar riffs to open this  funky shuffle, with Jordan also hitting the 88s. Like I said earlier,  this album grew on me the more I listened to it. It's a showcase for  veteran musicians playing the music they love so much --- how could it  not be good?" (Bill Mitchell/BluesBytes)

"with each  note, the band members show off their individual musical talents...a  solid offering...very appealing." (Rust Belt Chronicles/Matheson Kamin)

"a good time" (Chris Spector/Midwest Review)

"Muscle  Shoals guitarist Will McFarlane once told me in passing he 'gets paid  for the notes he leaves out.' His tasty fretwork is a clear highlight of  'Step On It!,' the new album from Big Shoes, a band comprised of Shoals  and Nashville musicians. McFarlane and Big Shoes keyboardist Mark T.  Jordan have both been members of Grammy-winner Bonnie Raitt’s band.  Drummer Andy Peake, singer/guitarist Rick Huckaby, guitarist Kenne  Cramer, bassist Tom Szell and percussion Bryan Brock round out Big  Shoes’ lineup. The musicians’ collective resume includes work with Van  Morrison, Delbert McClinton, Etta James, Taj Mahal and Bobby 'Blue”  Bland." (Matt Wake/Huntsville Times)

"a joyful noise" (Dave Lavender/Huntington Herald-Dispatch)