You have to suffer to sing the blues this way. You gotta have your heart not just broken, but kicked around and left in a gutter at 3 a.m. next to a crumpled up cigarette package– mugged, spit on, hung over, cut up with a switch blade knife and left for dead. Janis – you know which Janis, so shut up and listen – had this heart and there is her ghost running around in Cee Cee James vocal chords. This is rubbed raw, soaked in whiskey, drug out in the smoky blue moon blues. She shouts it, she wrings it out, she bleeds for it, she sweats for it she crawls across the floor for it.
I know you have heard that story about Lincoln and Kennedy had VPs named Johnson and those other eerie similarities. Well Janis Joplin had a guitar player named Sam Andrews, Cee Cee James has a guitar player named Rob Andrews. When Cee Cee shouts “I’ve taken all my lessons” you’ll hear Janis, and not just a little bit. When she lets that gritty shout go quiet and low you’ll hear her too. When she sings, “Walk On, walk on…” it’s there, baby. It’s Blood Red Blues.
This is her fourth CD and after trying her hand at pop/funk with Spiritually Wet, her first release, which was really a success winning the Los Angles Independent Artist Of The Year Award as well as the John Lennon Songwriting Competition. Lotta people would have considered that a triumph. But it wasn’t home for this St. Louis based singer. Nope, she went searching and found that place that allowed her to feel at home. She immersed her self in the blues which led to her second CD, 2008s, Low Down Where The Snakes Crawl.
She hasn’t looked back (except to see if the devil was gaining) since. She’s won awards that led to foreign tours, led to number one records on blues charts. She was dubbed The Vocal Volcano by one critic. Had her 2010 live album pronounced the best live performance on the century. The Washington Blues Society gave her the Best Blues Songwriter Award and nominated her for Best Blues Vocalist last year.
But none of that is important here. What’s important is the way that she tears out her soul to tell her story. What’s important here is raw, blood drenched power. What’s important is the fearless surrender to the songs, to the emotion – eleven original blues and roots tunes written by husband Rob ‘Slideboy’ Andrews.
Don’t expect pretty, slick visuals. This ain’t MTV. Don’t expect heart-on-the-sleeve delivery, she tears her heart out on stage and cuts it up into little bitty pieces. When Janis said, “Take another little piece of my heart now, baby!” Cee Cee James thought it was stage direction. Don’t expect flashing lights and voice overs or auto tune. Don’t expect anything but the blood red blues.
Copyright © 2012 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved