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Kenny Roby

Mercury's Blues – 2000 (RiceBox)

Reviewed by Brian Steinberg

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CDs by Kenny Roby

In any other era - aside from one in which teen-pop sensations bombard radio airwaves with synthesized dreck - Kenny Roby might have a real shot at the big time. He laces Southern soul and reggae into a honey-sweet mix that makes you want to sit out on the porch, grab an iced tea and lay back to the tunes on his new disc.

That's good and bad. Good because Roby, member of the late 6 String Drag, is keeping alive some musical traditions quickly on their way to being lost. He mixes horns and organ in a bouncy mix that includes his trademarked sweet and scratchy vocal stylings. The effort recalls Otis Redding in full "Try A Little Tenderness" throttle. The title track and the change-up combo of "Early Mornin' Blues (Parts 1 and 2)" will grab your ears and ask your brain to sort out the influences.

But the current effort lacks some of the grit and kick of 6 String Drag. Fans of "High Hat," the last work of that now-defunct group (produced by the Twangtrust team of Steve Earle and Ray Kennedy), might long for these new tunes to catch the fire evident on that outing. (RiceBox Records)