FREE Subscription - For more information  CLICK HERE



Back To Reviews page

Tip of the Top - Depot Street Blues

Delta King Records

12 tracks/48:37

Hailing from San Jose, Tip of the Top is a quartet of blues musicians with plenty of experience. Guitarist Jon Lawton released several fine recordings in the 90’s as the leader of Little Jonny & the Giants. He also was a major contributor to the excellent release last year from Alabama Mike, “Day to Day”. The rhythm section – Frank De Rose on bass, and Carlos Velasco on drums – have spent decades supporting musicians like Chris Cain, Rusty Zinn and Kenny Blue Ray. Aki Kumar may be a relative newcomer on the Bay area blues scene but his exciting harmonica playing has been featured in the Kid Anderson Band. Lawton and Kumar share the lead vocal responsibilities.

Their debut recording features three Lawton originals and a collection of covers that includes four songs penned by Little Walter. The band can play with a sense of urgency, as they do on the un-credited “Wait Baby” with its classic Muddy Water’s sound, or shuffle along at an easy pace like the take of “Got to Move On”. Velasco is a master of rhythm, consistently laying down a propulsive beat that always supplies a sense of swing to the proceedings. Lawton has always been a fine slide guitar player and shows his mastery of the Elmore James sound on the rockin’ instrumental “Depot Street Shuffle”. Another highlight is “Stranger Blues”, with an earnest vocal from Lawton and more outstanding slide guitar. But Kumar steals the show with his inventive harp fills behind Lawton’s work.

Kumar takes the spotlight on the Little Walter tunes. His version of “Juke” sticks pretty close to the original until Kumar cuts loose about half way through, unleashing his own inventive lines. The band manages to breathe life into “Mellow Down Easy” with a strong vocal from Kumar and a hot guitar solo from Lawton. The next track, “Temperature”, features more of Kumar’s fat harp tone and dynamic playing. Kumar turns in an emotional vocal on “Love Her With a Feeling”, the group maintaining a steady groove behind him. The disc closes with an instrumental, “Evan’s Shuffle”, that finds Kumar steadily building his solo over Lawton’s guitar. When the rhythm section kicks in, Kumar doesn’t miss a beat, playing with more power and just as much style.

It is rare to hear a band that plays with this much skill and finesse. Tip of the Top shows that even oft-covered blues tunes can gain new life when the band listens to each other and plays as an ensemble, eschewing endless solos and screaming guitars. The rhythm section of De Rose and Velasco provide the solid foundation that energizes each cut. Lawton and Kumar turn in impressive solos throughout but really grab your attention with their efforts in a support role. There is plenty of great blues on this release and I can’t imagine that there are too many blues fans that wouldn’t find lots to enjoy on Depot Street Blues. Check it out !!!

Reviewer Mark Thompson is president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL.

Back to reviews page CLICK HERE.

To submit a review or interview please contact:

For more information please contact:


Home  |  Contact  |  Submit Your Blues News - Advertise with Blues Blast Magazine
 Copyright - Blues Blast Magazine
2010    Design by: Moxi Dawg Design