Bullfrog Brown
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Bullfrog Brown

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Albert Collins once said "Simple music is the hardest music to play, and blues is simple music." True. How many times have you heard a band throw out those 12 bars perfectly. Mechanically. Totally missing the whole deal because of lack of feel?

Bullfrog Brown does not have that problem.

They attack delta and modern blues with confidence, able to play the "simple" blues with ease and showing no fear when it comes to taking a few risks. Often stepping outside the box without their 12 bar security blanket, something that would frankly scare the pants off of much more seasoned veterans of our music.

That's the thing about Bullfrog Brown, they're different.

In fact bands like them are important. New pioneers of the blues if you will. It will be the likes of Bullfrog Brown, Dan Treanor and Whiteboy Slim that force the blues to evolve. Uncooked starts of with the tongue in cheek egotistical Build Me A Statue. Built around a simple progression Statue falls into the "No security blanket" category. Slide guitar and bass providing the matches, harmonica and the violins of Marju Varblane, the gun powder. The use of the violins in the response to Alar Kriisa's vocals in particular, is just superb!

Use headphones to pick up the nuances of Andres Roots on Phantom Menace. This straight up blues brings to the forefront the considerable playing/songwriting talents of Bullfrog's main man. If you love, down home country blues guitar this is for you. Simple again, a revolving riff punctuated with precise picking. Add some Whiskey vocals, a killer harp solo by Ullar Kart, rock steady framework from bassist Peeter Piik and it's in the bag. Simple!

Meansalot though only hit me with a glancing blow compared to the first two direct hits and for that only reaches the heights of being a good song. The turnaround and guttural growls from Kriisa are highpoints but the body of the song is a little predictable compared with the rest of the record. I was out for the count again though on Poltergeist Blues, my favorite track of the six. Here look deeper than the obvious. Roots and Kart both shine in the spotlight, Andres laying out one of his best solo's of the disc. But this song to me was propelled by the excellent work of Peeter Piik on stand up bass. Man, that groove is nailed! Poltergeist Blues is also the first song on Uncooked that features the drummer boy styling's of Raul Terep. It's that sound that really defined Bullfrog's first CD Snakes and Devils.

Terep and his snare are again key components on Stolen Nocturne #9, the most complex arrangement on the disc. The song weaves around Andres slide guitar and Kriisa's vocals. The song is busy and wonderful!, the most ambitious effort present. The last track on Uncooked Snake Girl Blues shows Allar Kriisa at his best. We'll suited to toward this type pf slow crawling blues, the growling bellow of his voice stands out. Fine bottom end harp from Ullar Kart who's chops have progressed leaps and bounds since Snakes, and a less is more approach from Roots, who for 90% of this one lays back and just lays out a solid meter. The other 10% - fiery licks that keep the song smoldering.

All in all a very enjoyable collection of original blues. Andres Roots is as masterful with his pen as he is with his guitar, writing and producing all songs. Peeter Piik and Raul Terep are as solid as can be and both Alar and Ullar continue to grow into a serious blues force. If I had one complaint, it would be that I wish there was more of it! Recommended.

Steve Landy - Black Cat CD


The spirit of the blues spreads further afield than we would imagine. We all know of the Delta, Chicago and Memphis, but here the blues reaches even further away from it's historical home. We're talking about the Baltic's, or more specifically, Estonia's Bullfrog Brown.

It is not an understatement to say their debut release Snakes and Devils can stand musically with any of their American brothers and sisters. In fact, if not for the notable accent of singer Allar Kriisa , you could easily think you were listening to an album recorded deep in the Delta, not the frozen north of a former province of the Soviet Republic. Of the thirteen original tracks, twelve were penned by guitarist Andres Roots, the other by Kriisa. Exhibiting great conviction in their own material without relying on cover songs is always a plus in my book and I admire them for that. They do come a little close to piracy though by hijacking The Wolf's "Killing Floor" riff on "Night" and the "Crossroads" riff on "The Window's Are Shakin," but that's really not that new in the blues anyway. In fact, it just validates this group even more.

Resonating guitar is the dominant force behind "Snakes" and is played exceptionally well throughout the CD by the group's driving force Andres Roots. His authenticity is well defined and his technique flawless, making Snakes and Devils a must hear for the deep blues lover. I would point out some high points in his playing but to be truthful, they are consistently evident throughout the entire album. I don't know where that boy learned his chops but he gets the blues! Amazing.

As far as actual songwriting goes, listen to "Devil Went A Walkin'," "Missmeal Blues" and "Blues For Tinkle " for great "Dylanesque" lyrics. One-liners that have deep meaning without making sense, all delivered from Kriisa with a "razor blades for breakfast" kind of voice. Every track on Snakes and Devils has an element to it that is inventive. Whether it's the simple repeating riff on "Blues For Tinkle," the infectious hook and soldier boy drumming on "Saucer Full Of Cream" or the creative backdrop of tambourine, triangle and bass drum throughout, the music works. The emphasis on Ullar Kart's harmonica also plays a big part in the Bullfrog Brown sound and when used in an accompanying role, it's melancholy feel is quite effective. However, when venturing towards center stage, Kart's soloing comes across a little tentative, perhaps in it's holding back and leaning on Root's guitar work. A noticeable exception would be at the end of the song "Night ," where Kart lets loose with a very spirited solo which although short, proves to be one of the great junctures on the album. Some more of this fiery attitude mixed with an occasionally huskier harp tone would add a harder edge to certain songs.

Strong tracks: The Wind Still Blows, Missmeal Blues, Whiskers.

Downright Magical: Night, Devil Went A Walkin', Saucer Full Of Cream and my favorite, Blues For Tinkle.

There just isn't a weak track on this album and overall, production is very good. I wonder what these boys sound like live. Does anyone know if Delta flies to Estonia?

Michael Davenport - Black Cat CD


Bullfrog Brown hail from Estonia and Snakes and Devils is a mixture of Delta and Chicago blues. It is mainly a musical illustration of the vocal talents of Alar Kriisa and Andres Roots slide and acoustic guitar with backing by bass, drums & harmonica. The vocals have a distinctive Estonian characteristic about them and only adds to their unique interpretation of the blues. After all the Blues belongs to the whole world. Their passion for the blues really comes across on 13 track CD of home spun blues numbers, albeit borrowing some cotton from existing blues garmentsbut dont we all. Snakes & Devils is primal earthy blues with an honest delivery. Good musicianship throughout with some authentic acoustic slide and harp.

Paul Bufton - Blues Matters!


Let's have the same team and do it again. Even better. Indeed, after their excellent Snakes & Devils, already reviewed here, Bullfrog Brown seems to have improved their style, or maybe their blues simply has matured. Unless it's the extra time they spent together on the road, on stage and in the studio ? Nevertheless, here's the obvious result : country blues to die for. With both respect for the tradition and that inevitable modern sound due to the fact this was recorded in a studio of our time. The nucleus still consists of Alar Kriisa on vocals, Üllar Kärt on harmonicas and Andres Roots, the guy with a predestined last name on guitars (slide, reso, etc), composer and producer of every title on this little jewel. They added the talents of Peeter Pilk on doublebass and mandolin here, Raul Terep on drums there, and, as an icing on the cake, Marju Varblane on violin. Yes, a little jewel indeed, and that maybe the only flaw on this CD : less than 25 minutes, 6 numbers only, that's just enough to make one crave for more. Let's wish this gets reissued soon with the addition of as many songs of the same quality. This EP will be commercially available, it should be on Black Cat CD in the US, Woodchuck Guitars in Europe, and as mp3s on Green Bullet soon.

René Malines - New Blues Reviews


I'm not entirely sure where to start... I'll say this... This record is great, buy it. as i sit here listening to snakes and devils, drinking a PBR, i'm struck with the realisation that all of this punk rock blues experimentation in recent years has finally been perfected.

Any purist should be able to appreciate the fantastic guitar playing of the great Andres Roots. He plays as authentic as the mississippi river delta its self. you can argue that some of the riffs have been 'borrowed' from ancient blues tunes, but hasn't 'borrowing' been a staple in the blues since W.C. Handy heard the old man in the train station. Andres plays with a soul that feels to be as old as the music he's playing behind a rythm section that reminds me of tom waits 'bone machine' at times.

Alar Kriisa, any punk rock blues kid should be able to appreciate his gruff vocals. He sounds like Leon Redbone piss drunk and fronting an Alice Cooper cover band and this is a good thing, a very good thing. The lyrics ramble shamlessly like Dylan, but later-day Dylan, 'Love and Theft' dDylan, which, again, is a good thing, a very good thing.

I can't think of any songs to point out. They are all great. The only bad song on the album is 'Legacy Blues' - only because the lyrics fall a bit short when compared to every other song on the album - but to be the worst song on a great album still means it sits far above the rest of us in the tower of song, just maybe not all the way up there with 'ole Hank.

Again, buy this album. Tell your friends to buy this album. Do the world a favor for a change. Buy it and send it to family for Christmas. I will be a supporter of this band until the day i die, long after they break up because one of 'em drinks too much.

Eric Gebhardt - Blues In London


Discography

"Snakes and Devils"
KWAQ Records 2005

"Uncooked" (EP)
KWAQ Records 2006

"Tundra" (EP)
KWAQ Records 2007
Release date: Sept. 29

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Bio

“We sounded pretty good together!” - David ‘Honeyboy’ Edwards

“All of this punk rock blues experimentation in recent years has finally been perfected.” - Blues In London

“Bullfrog Brown is a rural blues expert.” - La Hora Del Blues

Some call Bullfrog Brown's music 'Delta Blues'; others hear echoes of the 'Fat Possum' sound. But categorise it how you will, this Estonian trio's combination of slide guitar, harp and gravel-voiced vocals proves to Australian Blues DJ Geoff Pegler that "the Blues is alive and well" in the Mother River Delta of the Estonian South.

Formed in Tartu by vocalist Alar Kriisa, guitarist Andres Roots and harmonica player Yllar Kart in 2003 and described as "huge stage presence and a superb band" by British Blues DJ Dave Raven, Bullfrog Brown have appeared live in England, Scotland, Finland, Czech, Slovakia, Latvia and Lithuania while maintaining a busy schedule in their native country.

In addition to backing Zigaboo Modeliste's keyboard man Eddie Baytos (USA) on the road and on national television, the band have shared stages and/or toured with David "Honeyboy" Edwards (USA), Dave Arcari (UK), Black River Bluesman (FIN), Bottleneck John (SWE), Alaska Kalan (FIN), Eugene "Hideaway" Bridges (USA), Havana Black (FIN), Hooter's Blues (NOR), The Cedars (UK), and many others.

For their 2005 release "Snakes and Devils", Bullfrog Brown recruited the talents of Raul Terep on drums and percussion, Peeter Piik on upright bass and Kalle Kindel on djembe, producing a CD that continues to receive airplay on blues radio shows on four continents. Instrumentally rooted deep in the Blues but with stunningly original lyrics by Andres Roots, this is an album that the American critic Michael Davenport calls both "inventive" and "a must hear for the deep blues lover". His French counterpart René Malines agrees, describing the music as "more real than the real thing."

Nominated for the 2006 "Tartu Deed of the Year" award, the follow-up EP "Uncooked" included an appearance by Marju Varblane on violin and met with an even more enthusiastic response, with Fatbluescat.com editor Steve Landy noting that "it will be the likes of Bullfrog Brown, Dan Treanor and Whiteboy Slim that force the blues to evolve."


• Winners of the Blindman’s Blues Forum showcase & the highest ranking blues band in ubl.com's Ultimate Band Competition, placing 6th in a 2-year race with thousands of international pop, rock, and hip-hop bands (2007)

• The only non-American artist & post-1971 recording to be featured in the History of Slide Guitar programme compiled by Radio Melibokus in Germany (2006)

• Festivals played include: Puistoblues, Finland (2006); Augustibluus, Estonia (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007); Bliuzo Naktys, Lithuania (2005); Floating Cockroach Alt.Blues Festival, Finland (2007); Savonsolmu Beach & Blues Party, Finland (2007); WRA InterContinental Resophonic Guitar Festival, Czech Republic (2005); Kaavi Blues, Finland (2007); Bluza Krustceles, Latvia (2004); Fiesta de la Guitarra, Estonia (2006); Soodoma Rock, Estonia (2004); RockTrip, Estonia (2004); Lindalevi, Estonia (2003, 2004, 2006, 2007); Jannen Jamit, Finland (2006); WintFest, Estonia (2003); Supilinna Päevad, Estonia (2004, 2006)...