PAUL FILIPOWICZ – Roughneck Blues Live!
(2015 Big Jake)
Buy the CD here.
Three things happened recently that deserved more attention. These aren’t everyday occurrences, especially since they’re not associated with pop or rock music, fad or fashion. We’re talking blues and reggae music accomplishments, two strengths of Madison music that are too often overlooked. The Jimmys charted with their latest album Hot Dish. Natty Nation reached #3 on the reggae chart with Divine Spark. Perhaps the biggest achievement came from Madison Main Man Paul Filipowicz who was inducted into the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame in October of 2015, joining an elite group of musicians in the Master Blues Artist category. The Chicago Blues Hall of Fame is part of a larger movement, the Blues Hall of Fame, which is a worldwide movement that recognizes great blues artists in many different locales.
Filipowicz was also one of many Madison blues artists featured in the Dec 2015/Jan 2016 edition of Big City Rhythm and Blues Magazine which is published out of Detroit. The issue can be backordered at the magazine’s website. The magazine also named him “Best Dressed Male Performer.” Twice. It’s one of the distinctive characters of his showmanship, as if ripping the hell out of his guitar weren’t enough. Filipowicz has been reviewed in some fifty-two magazines over the years.
Roughneck Blues Live! Is Filipowicz’s eighth release, following 2013’s Saints and Sinners. Eleven originals were culled from a performance at the Knuckledown Saloon in Madison on July 25, 2015; recorded and mastered by Steve Hamilton just a few months before Filipowicz’s big night at the Blues Hall of Fame ceremony. His band consists of Benny Rickun on harmonicas, Brian Howard on drums and Rick Smith on bass.
The disc is chock full of raw emotion, power and, of course, impassioned soloing from Filipowicz. He has a somewhat unusual finger style, playing without a plectrum and yet somehow getting more attack on the strings than if he were playing them with a solid chunk of granite.
For pure guts and glory all you need to do is check out “Santa Fe Windows,” an eight-minute powerhouse that takes four complete turns before the vocals even kick in. What makes this such a great performance, and album, is the pure heart poured into it. Filipowicz would probably growl at the first person to suggest an overdub and rightly so; this album captures the man in his element. You’ll feel like you’re nursing your scotch right at the Knuckledown’s bar top.
Another barnburner is “Your True Lovin’” from the Saints and Sinners album. His gritty vocals are in fine form, sounding full of energy. He switches on the tremolo (the only other effect he uses is reverb) on “Hootin’ and Hollerin,’” the guitar snarling like a cobra ready to strike. He kicks the album off with a new song, “Gambling Woman,” another blistering workout featuring one of the best solos on the record.
Paul Filiowicz is the real deal, his place in blues music lore is already pretty firmly cemented. The fact that he carries on with the enthusiasm and dedication that he does is uplifting and inspiring. He could still smoke most gunslingers half his age under the table. When you get Filipowicz, that’s what you get. The man, the guitar and the blues. All the bullshit gets left at the load-in dock.
For a tasty live sample, check this fine set from the High Noon Saloon from 2013 filmed by Madison photographer Terry Talbot. The set has Howard on drums and Dave Remitz on bass.
High Noon Saloon 3/10/13