Monday, March 6, 2017

Brody Buster’s One Man Band

By the time Brody Buster had been in the music business for ten years, he had already done more than most musicians did in their entire careers. And he had just finished high school.
Buster was a child prodigy who picked up his first harmonica at the age of seven, and despite never having a music lesson in his life, within a year he was starting to make a name for himself. Eventually he went on to work with Quincy Jones, Keb Mo, Chaka Kahn, and Lee Oskar. The legendary B.B. King himself, utilized Buster’s talents on many occasions and even once remarked, "Despite his age, Brody Buster is one of the greatest harmonica players of our time."
Buster even made television appearances on The Tonight Show With jay Leno, Dateline, and those bastions of the blues, Baywatch Nights and Full House.
You got it dude…
Sometimes, however, when a light shines that brightly in one so you, it can lead to a burnout.
I couldn’t tell you if that was the case with Buster, but he did take a hiatus from music for a number of years. When he started to reemerge (I hesitate to call it a “comeback”), he went the traditional route and worked with a band, and while they were good (are good, as they still perform together), it was not the sound for which Buster was searching.
He stripped down the sound until eventually it was just him providing vocals, guitar, harp, and percussion. As he wrote songs and built his repertoire from rock songs, he got closer and closer to the spotlight. This past year, he returned to Memphis to take part in the IBC, finishing in second place in the solo/duo category and winning the award for Best Harmonica Player.
My friend, Anita Schlank, who also serves as Time For The Blues Live Music Correspondent (she sees more shows in a week than Henry and I do in a year!), caught Buster at the IBC Finals and she reported that he was, “simply amazing.” She went on to mention his high energy, rapport with the audience, and “he could do more with a harmonica in the rack than most players can do while holding it.”
Recently I received a review copy of his new CD, Brody Buster’s One Man Band, which is scheduled to release later this month. His high energy and virtuoso harp skills are on ample display throughout this eight-song disc. Aside from three songs that Buster penned himself, he’s included covers from The Grateful Dead, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, and The Beatles.
You know, hacks…
He’s also included one track written by Eugene Smiley Sr, a very cool Kansas City based blues and rhythm and blues artist. In fact, Smiley’s Get Out Of My Life kicks off the album with a very swamp fueled Resonator guitar and percussion mix. His vocals growl on this strong blues tune and his harp work is excellent and sets the bar pretty high for the other songs on the album.
He follows up with a Grateful Dead number, New Speedway Boogie. It’s an unusual choice, not one of the first songs I would think of to cover, but Buster gives it a solid rootsy feel with this stripped down approach. He delivers a great harp break and the song really delivers.
Next up is a countrified version of Sprinsteen’s I’m On Fire. The song always had certain elements of country in it, primarily in The Boss’ vocals, but here, with the harp opening and a change in the guitar rhythm, it really comes out as country in the best way.
The next couple of songs are Brody Buster original, starting off with the best dance song to Earth’s destruction, 2029. Seriously, this is one wild tune, with the story of an asteroid wiping out our world on September 23, in the year 2029. The tempo is quick and while the lyrics are dark, it’s easy to dance to! I’ve gone around singing this one for a couple of days.
The next original, Into The Wind, is a slower number but it too has a dark side. Once again, Buster’s vocals and harp carry the tune. I get the feeling that this is more of a personal song than he uses on this particular album. I like the feel and hope to hear more like this from him in the future.
Buster takes a Beatles break with the classic, Get Back. Remember, the Beatles’ biggest influences were Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly, so here, Buster strips the song back to its distant American roots. There’s a great harp break, but McCartney purists should be ready for the slight changing of the lyrics which changes the direction of the song.
Next up is another Buster original, Working For The Devil, which is another song heavily influenced by roots and Americana music. This is a good, straight forward heavy driving song and one that I enjoyed very much.
Buster closes out the album with Prince’s Nothing Compares 2 U. I’ve heard a few blues versions of the song and his version is one of my favorites. With the harp opening, the slow deliberate pace and his strong vocals, this is a true stand out. So many of Prince’s songs were great blues tunes that were recorded for a more mainstream audience, so it’s good to hear them reinterpreted.
Even though this is a short album with eight songs, none of which top four minutes, it’s long on talent and good material. I understand that Buster is looking to get out of his home in Kansas City and back out on the road for more dates and even some festivals. I, for one, would love to catch him live and will be checking his label’s website hoping to find out that information PDQ.

In the meantime, you might want to go ahead and preorder the album, or if you are reading this after April 2017, just get yourself a copy from any of the usual suspects. You won’t be sorry.

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