Mississippi Fever
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Mississippi Fever

Saint Louis, Missouri, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2009 | SELF

Saint Louis, Missouri, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2009
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"Mississippi Fever 300 Miles to Memphis"

“The electricity created by these guys is felt through their music.” BluesWax

Nothing challenges blues musicians like playing in a guitar, bass and drums trio. Fierce commitment, top chops and exceptional songs are required to keep the format fresh and enticing to an audience. Mississippi Fever from St. Louis proved their bona fides on their self-titled debut in 2010. Extraordinary singer/guitarist Brent Barker, virtuoso bassist Ted May and head snapping drummer Tom May have now taken their simmering power and pugnacity up a notch with their latest release.

Eight originals of love and lust plus two choice covers are augmented by Steve Grimes and Rick Steff (keyboards), and Brandon Santini (harmonica). The hypnotic, funky “I Feel Like Superman” casts a “voodoo chile” spell, Barker rocking his wah pedal, his passionate vocals seducing with “Get your body feeling free, come on here, sit down next to me. It’s time to liberate your mind. Let’s get it started, ain’t wasting no time. I feel like Superman with a master plan.” His genuine, unforced blues voice commands his throbbing shuffle interpretation of Robert Johnson’s salacious “Traveling Riverside Blues,” his solo twisting like a muddy road through the Delta. The minor key, smoothly shuffling “Steal Away Your Love” features the metaphorically poetic lyrics “Planning me a heist tonight baby, might need a partner in crime. Planning me a heist tonight baby, might need a partner in crime. So leave the door unlocked tonight baby, I’ll break and enter your heart” while Steff teases the ivories.

The dramatic, descending riff of “Downtown Train” adds heat to Barker’s braggadocio “’Cause I’m your downtown train, take me to your uptown lane (2x). I’m steady rolling all night long with my Muddy Waters on. Like a rolling stone from dusk till dawn, so girl come on.” Driving every tune like a heavy riff machine, Barker keeps “Till the Sunrise” pumping while exhorting “Ride on, my son, ride on until the sunrise comes” like a possibly autobiographical mantra. The hip-shaking “Black Dress” provides the proper funk for the lascivious masculine plea “They call me doctor, gonna cure your ill. You don’t know how good this can make you feel. Got your prescription, two times a day. I’m making house calls girl, I’m on my way.”

A consummate trio guitarist, Barker fills with chords, propulsive riffs and concise, yet expressive solos. On the slinky slow blues “Out All Night,” however, he totally hijacks the spotlight with strikingly emotive lead lines while baring his heartbreak with “Way back when I held her in my arms so tight. Now when I reach out to hold on that girl ain’t nowhere in sight.” The high stepping title track referencing the mileage between St. Louis and Memphis rolls and tumbles while Barker crows “Get me a job downtown and a woman, too (2x). Head down to Beale Street and I’m two for two” as Santini honks exuberantly on his harp. Barker confronts an evil paramour with “I’ve been mistreated, I don’t need no sympathy (2x). You done me wrong, standing high on sacred ground” on the funky, minor key “The Devil’s Got You Now,” his burning guitar fueling the damnation. An unaccompanied guitar intro with seamless licks and chords leads to a set closing, show-stopping, epic version of ZZ Top’s “Jesus Just Left Chicago,” the band grooving incessantly behind the fluid electric keyboard lines of Steff as Barker squeezes the neck of his Stratocaster until it screams in exultation.

If the blues of Brent Barker and the May brothers was a college course, it would lead to a graduate degree. Deep and wide as their namesake mighty river, it thrills, chills and provides sustenance for the soul.

Dave Rubin, KBA recipient in Journalism - Dave Rubin, KBA recipient in Journalism


"*** MISSISSIPPI FEVER "300 Miles To Memphis""

*** MISSISSIPPI FEVER "300 Miles To Memphis"


*** TRACK 1. - "I Feel Like Superman".
Heavy Wah Wah pedal from Barker, Santini's harp floating around and keys from Grimes. Funky and intense with Barker's strong gruff voice providing a strong story of taking control of music and life. A "super" start to this highly anticipated album.

*** TRACK 2. - "Traveling Riverside Blues".
A great inclusion to this album is this stunning interpretation of a Robert Johnson's salacious Delta classic. Few can take a masters classic and re-invent it so as to sound like an original but Barker, May and May do just that. Barker uses his voice to great heights with his understated guitar underpinning his vocals. As a trio these guys really know how to fill all spaces and create a full bodied sound. There is still so much relevance in Johnson's words. A great track indeed.

*** TRACK 3 - "Steal Away Your Love".
Oh yeah very cool, a minor key shuffler that again showcases the immense talent of this trio. Barker's voice is Blues honey as he tells his story, girl he ain't no angel but he is going to steal your love. An added wonderful element is the inclusion of Steff's piano and the stunning guitar of Barker. Intense and brooding Blues of a very high quality.

*** TRACK 4 - " Downtown Train".
Barker struts his vocal skills and guitar on this rather bragging track. He may be from downtown but he can still take your uptown heart. Mississippi Fever's songs are so very well crafted with great stories and excellent charts. This group certainly know how to write a perfect song for their sound.

*** TRACK 5 - "Till The Sunrise".
Solid Blues with Rock overtones that certainly engage the listener with Barker's now trademark vocals and virtuoso guitar. A plea to return home.

*** TRACK 6 - "Black Dress".
Slippery funky guitar herald in the salivious vocals of Barker as he tries to display all of his maculine skills. Boasting is oh so good when sung by Barker with the trio really laying down one solid groove. The rock elements feel so right as you are hypnotically transported by them to another place and time. Solid, solid track that certainly has "our attention".

*** TRACK 7 - "Out All Night".
Yeah, yeah, yeah a beautiful masterful slow Blues with a golden toned guitar from Barker. Barker has a deft touch and feel for the idiom and then delights with his wonderful Blues voice that can draw every emotion from this song that they penned. This one feels so right that you instnatly feel as though you have heard it many times before and not because it is a copy but rather because it is original and feels right. Shouldn't all Blues just "feel right"? Like all of their other songs we have a wonderful story that allows Barker's voice and guitar to shine.

*** TRACK 8 - "300 Miles To Memphis".
Rocking, rollicking tittle track that features some gorgeous harp from Santini. Here we travel back to the Delta with a trip from Kansas to Memphis. The Blues was certainly calling out to the guys and that provided the basis of this striking Blues. The group again shine throughout.

*** TRACK 9 - "The Devil's Got You Now".
The title track certainly lays down exactly what this song is all about. Barker is at his pleading best on this smoldering minor key. Again Barker shines not only with voice but smokes it with his guitar. As with previous tracks for a trio the full on sound is omnipresent providing a solid bass and rhythm section for their songs.

*** TRACK 10 - "Jesus Just Left Chicago".
Another thoughtful interesting addition to this album is ZZ Top's "Jesus Just Left Chicago". On the dark side and full bodied with references of the past fathers of the Blues and the homes of acoustic and electric Blues. This one allows Barker to ignite the sky with a blistering guitar solo that fully underscores ZZ Top's interpretation of the Blues. Barker's Stratocaster may not recover. In a classy addition Steff lays down some silky smooth keys for Barker to again launch into another stunning solo. Doesn't get much better than this.

I have found over the years that with some trios you feel that the glass is half full or half empty because there are times of finesse that need to be filled. Mississippi Fever belie this completely as their robust sond fills each song top to bottom. Each member can certainly play and play extremely well. Their eight originals are mini epics that are great engaging stories, then the addition of a fron Robert Johnson and also one from the enigmatic ZZ Top you seal the deal on a brilliant album. I for one had not heard of these guys but am now a firm fan. Listening to these songs is an absolute pleasure as Barker's strong vocals and incredible guitar certainly grab you and shake you out of your stupor with modern Blues as Blues should be. Ted and Tom May provide the very best bed to each track and are just so tight. Anyone who hears this album is going to love it and want more. Yep l am greedy enough to say l want more. - Peter Merrett,PBS106.7, Melbourne, Australia‏


"Mississippi Fever 300 Miles to Memphis"

Releasing their debut album in 2010, Mississippi Fever is a bare-bones trio consisting of Brent Barker on guitar and vocals, Ted May on bass and Tom May on drums. Right on the money every step of the way, these guys deliver blues and Americana on a par with bands that have been doing it for twenty to thirty years or more. No high-tech gimmicks, no showboating, just good musicians playing what the love. Add an assist from Steve Grimes and Rick Steff on keyboards and harmonica virtuoso Brandon Santini and you have what is essentially the cherry on top of an already sweet ice-cream sundae. These are superb musicians who play from the heart, and like they mean it. The result is an album that is solid as bands get. This is one of those things that the more I listened to it, the more I liked it. It seems that I heard something new and different with each pass though the player. An album that is by far better than average, this is the kind of band that would work extremely well in a club or festival. More often than not, by the time I finish writing a review, I am finished with the album. Now and then I stumble upon a piece that I find myself going back to after the review is finished. This is one of those discs. I can't explain why but there is a special quality in what I am hearing that has a long-lasting quality. This is the type of album that would sell out nightly after shows. As for record sales on line or in record stores I can see this one selling slowly but steadily, the type of album that would still be in demand twenty years down the road. This band has what it takes. This is not a lot of spit and polish, but a solid album for the average guy on the street. This is the real deal. - Bill Wilson - Reflections in Blue Bill Wilson


"CD Capsule Reviews by Mark E. Waterbury"

This St. Louis blues-rock trio has immense shoes to fill if you think of the greats like Johnny Winter and Jeff Healey who have passed recently. They make a beyond noble effort to accomplish that with this fiery effort. This is music that feels electrified even when the song may be mellow, bone-crunching rhythms, wicked guitar licks and throaty vocals. With a solid mix of originals and a few choice covers, these guys really put the “power” into power trio. - Music Morsels Review


"MISSISSIPPI FEVER: 300 MILES TO MEMPHIS"

The band Mississippi Fever is from St. Louis in 2010 and stunned the world with a blues-titled debut album. The extraordinary singer / guitarist Brent Baker find backing for his companions Tom May on drums and bassist Ted May. So now there to promote "300 Miles to Memphis. The eight original tracks and two cover versions are complemented by Steve Grimes and Rick Steff on keyboards.
The hypnotic funky tunes in the opening track "I Feel Like Superman 'is a nice contrast to the acoustic intro and the casual blues riffs in Robert Johnson's" Traveling Riverside Blues. " The smooth shuffle in "Steal Away Your Love 'is a playful lyrics. After this agonizingly slow teasing are rising guitar riffs of 'Downtown Train' However, playful and modern tunes. "Till the Sunrise 'can be compared to heavy grunge arrangements, and then the hip and funky" Black Dress "the revue still racing past. And sounds such as "The call me doctor, gonna cure your ill '.. very excited.Will undoubtedly be continued. And perhaps makes the most bluesy track "Out All Night" its appearance. Baker and unsurpassed expressive guitar solos are a breath of fresh air in this slow blues. Brandon Santini blows happily on his jewel in the title track. And Baker's burning guitar goes even funky tour in the stimulating 'The Devil's Got You Now'. If the valve with Messrs us an epic version of ZZ Top's "Jesus Just Left Chicago."Brent Baker they beult Stratocaster one last time and goes in duel with Rick Steff's electric keyboard tunes.
Mississippi Fever is perhaps for the big breakthrough with the album "300 Miles to Memphis.

Philip Verhaege (4½)
is enough variety on this album. And now only the big international breakthrough ... - Keys and Chords NL


"Mississippi Fever 300 Miles to Memphis"

The distance from their place St. Louis, Missouri, the city where it all goes according to the Mississippi Fever men is nearly 300 miles. You can via Route 55 or 67 to and that lasts more than 4 hours by car, by bus even 6 to 7 hours. Normal cost for the Americans, for us Dutch reason to move then. Probably you can discuss many things on the go with your other band members and so will many a blues song arose for this second album from Mississippi Fever.Recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis Music and assisted by Adam Hill, best known for his work with George Thorogood and The White Stripes.
The album opens with nice funky I Feel Like Superman, with Brent Barker and the brothers Ted and Tom May be supported by Rick Steff on keys of the roots rock band Lucero. Indeed, a band from Memphis. Following a rocking blues song Traveling Riverside Blues traveling through the United States along the beautiful cities and rivers. Brent has a bunch of good fingers should be clear, not a wrong note and delicious original solo work. His voice will not get bored. In the slow blues number Steal Away Your Love Brent let us enjoy its perfect acoustic guitar. Do not doze off, with Downtown Train the clock is put back on rock with a groovy song.
In Till The Sunrise and Black Dress Mississippi Fever continues with their own style of rock with blues. It swings really. Out All Night shows us again went down and shows how beautiful the slow blues can be. The title track 300 Miles To Memphis is clearly a tribute to this beautiful city. Brandon Santini, even from Memphis and recently also discussed with his own work, must give this song its distinctive harmonica sound. The closing song ZZ Top Jesus Just Left Chicagosurpasses the original with a great intro and many blues loving audience will make the hair stand straight up.
The album 300 Miles To Memphis has no bad number, including eight original songs and two covers, and should it ever do good lean labeled debut in 2010 have forgotten. For me, this album is a debut to get acquainted with Mississippi Fever and that is not a bad acquaintance. I look forward to the programming of the blues festivals this fall. Because one thing is certain: this band is still making beautiful things.
1. I Feel Like Superman
2. Traveling Riverside Blues
3. Steal Away Your Love
4. Downtown Train
5. Till The Sunrise
6. Black Dress
7. Out All Night
8. 300 Miles To Memphis
9. The Devil's Got You Now
10. Jesus Just Left Chicag - Blues Magazine


"Mississippi Fever 300 Miles to Memphis New Release Review"

I just received the newest release, 300 Miles To Memphis, from Mississippi Fever and it's entertaining. Opening with funky, Feel Like Superman; guitarist, lead vocalist, Brent Barker kicks on the wah wah pedal and with supporting organ work from Steve Grimes; solid bass work from Ted May and tight drums from Tom May puts me in mind of a little Mahogany Rush. Very cool. A modern electric interpretation of Robert Johnson's Traveling Riverside Blues is up next and Barker takes a nice stretch on lead guitar actually bringing to mind Clapton's style. A real nice bass line by May is the trick on Steal Away Your Love. Barker's crisp acoustic guitar soloing on this track is a nice juxtaposition to the overall heavy feel of the track. One of my favorite tracks on the release, Downtown Train, has a real nice bass/drum bottom setting a solid platform for minimalistic vocal and guitar work by Barker. With the inclusion of a thin no nonsense guitar solo over absolute basics, I feel the track sounds a bit like early Black Keys which I feel is their best work. Till The Sunrise is an uptempo blues rocker sounding like a fusion of early Savoy Brown (vocals) and Robin Trower (rhythm). Again, a general stripped feeling brings the Keys into thought but this track has something special with super bass riffs from May. Another of my favorites is Black Dress with a real nice funky blues groove and a recurrent slick guitar riff. With it's warm melody and super groove this may be the breakout track for the release. Slow blues number Out All Night, has Tom and Ted May setting the stage for some of the most compelling vocal work on the release. Barker has a unique quality to his voice and paired with his guitar capabilities, they set this track on fire! Morganfield influenced and country styled, 300 Miles to Memphis has a acoustic picked flavor complimented nicely by Brandon Santini on harp.The Devil's Got You Now is a contemporary blues rocker which feels a lot like Savoy Brown from the early 70's. I happen to really like that band and this is a cool track with a cool rock beat and extended guitar soloing. What's not to like? Wrapping the release is ZZ Top's blues rock classic, Jesus Just Left Chicago. The basic arrangement on this track is mostly unchanged but Barker takes his guitar for a real nice walk throwing down some mighty licks and Rick Steff does a nice job on keys. Nice wrap to a fun release - B’Mans Blues Report


"Buckle Up We're Leaving to Memphis!"

Mississippi Fever" is a blues rock power trio around Brent Barker (guitar / vocals) and brothers Ted (bass) and Tom May (drums). This threesome with field in Los Angeles has been playing together since 2009. Ted (session bassist) and Brent (sound engineer / guitarist) have known each other for years of sessions, they did together in LA. In a casual jam in a club in St. Louis in 2008, Tom was also there and was "Mississippi Fever" is a fact.
Brent Barker received his first guitar from his mother, who ordered a guitar from a JC Penney catalog post when he was still in school. He spent many sessions in LA, while his guitar hung on the hook and came after his move to St. Louis his old friend Ted May to music again. Ted May has been a bassist since 1975. It began for him in a church, where they were looking for a bass player for the youth band that played there. As bassist toured with Ted "Pavlov's Dog" and Studebaker John. Ted's brother Tom May drummed all while he was still in high school. Tom worked with Bob Keller, the bassist Gregg and Duane Allman, and he once opened for Chuck Berry and Hamilton Loomis.
In 2010 the self-titled debut album "Mississippi Fever". "300 Miles To Memphis" is five years later, the second album from the trio. Of the ten tracks are eight original songs songs, which are complemented by two covers. There is "ZZ Top's" "Jesus Just Left Chicago" (from their live album "Double Down Live - 1980 ') and a number of Robert Johnson 1937" Traveling Riverside Blues. " It's a song that "Cream", Eric Clapton and "Led Zeppelin" ("Coda" - 1982) was not lost.

The hypnotic funky "I Feel Like Superman" opens "Mississippi Fever" album. Brent Barker saves his wah-wah pedal not while he entices everyone out, saying: "Come on here, sit down next to me. It's ime to librate your mind. Let's get started, is not wasting no time. I feel like Superman with a master plan ... "Robert Johnson's" Traveling Riverside Blues "(a promotion for travel in the States) is a cover that stands out by Barker's great (unforced) singing and a solo which still echoes through the Delta. In the quiet blues shuffle "Steal Away Your Love" which follows, is in addition to the acoustic guitar, the poetic metaphor that stands out: "Planning a heist me tonight baby might need a partner in crime. So leave the door unlocked tonight baby, I'll break and enter your heart ... "said Barker, backed by keyboardist Rick Steff. In "Downtown Train" is a repetitive riff, the song is even more dramatic. Again, the text speaks volumes bombastic: "I'm your downtown train, take me to your uptown lane. I'm steady rolling all night long with my Muddy Waters on. Like a rolling stone from dusk till dawn, so come on girl ... "In" Till The Sunrise "is the drive to dawn a little further. It is then a lot more relaxed and wulpser with a funky song "Black Dress": "They call me Doctor, gonna cure your ill. You do not know how good this can feel ... "The slow blues" Out All Night "is there any female listeners to tempt permanently by emotive solos and ditto puns:" Way back when I held her in my arms so tight ... " Then there's the title track "300 Miles To Memphis", which explains what to see and do in Memphis. Brandon Santini adds great accordion grooves increasing. Before the door closes, there is first a funky song "The Devil's Got You Now", which confronts an evil lover with the facts: "I've been mistreated, I do not need no sympathy ..." Brent, Ted and Tom close after the acoustic guitar intro with "ZZ Top's" "Jesus Just Left Chicago". The final cover is bluesy and epic and majestic dominated by Barker's Stratocaster, which leaves even some space for some piano riffs of Rick Steff.

If you're like me, it makes first contact with the trio of "Mississippi Heat" and their "300 Miles To Memphis", this is a pleasant surprise. Their journey of 643,7 km in ten steps is a pleasant journey in good company. What route from the boxes roll is blues rock, interspersed with slow blues and funk, ie for every wayfarer. We have certainly not bored and we were denied nothing! - Rootstime Belgium


"What's New"

300 Miles To Memphis, the latest release from the rocking blues trio Mississippi Fever, alternates between smoking, smoldering, and burning. Singer/guitarist Brent Barker, bassist Ted May, and his brother, drummer Tom May, offer up ten masterful tracks of blues and rock with eight original tunes and a pair of interesting covers. The trio has been playing since the 70’s, but joined forces as Mississippi Fever in 2009.
The trio’s original songs range from the funky opener “I Feel Like Superman” to the steamy shuffle “Steal Away Your Love” to the hard chargers “Downtown Train” and “Till the Sunrise.” “Black Dress” pumps up the funk again, with some tasty wah-wah effects from Barker, who also fills “Out All Night,” a splendid slow blues, with excellent lead work.
The restless rocking title track features Memphis harp ace Brandon Santini, and “The Devil’s Got You Now” is a churning rocker with some nice work by the rhythm section. The two covers are Robert Johnson’s “Traveling Riverside Blues,” transformed into a rousing shuffle, and an impressive take on ZZ Top’s “Jesus Just Left Chicago” that closes the disc.
I really like the interplay between the trio, Barker’s weathered voice and versatile guitar work, and the rock solid rhythm section. Mississippi Fever know how to deliver the goods and 300 Miles To Memphis will provide blues fans with a lot of enjoyable listening.
Graham Clarke - Blues Bytes


"Mississippi Fever Review"

Being the guitarist in a blues power trio is a tough gig. He has to have the chops to vary things night after night to keep things “fresh” and “real,” to quote the popular vernacular. Mississippi Fever, outta St. Louis, has a stomp-down good ‘un at the helm in Brent Barker, along with bassist Ted May and his brother Tom on drums. They have just released “300 Miles From Memphis,” a blistering set of eight originals and two covers that give Brent and the fellows room to lay down a hot groove.

You gotta love that wah-wah-infused guitar that leads off Brent’s Saturday-night-and-I’m-ready-to-rock anthem, “I Feel Like Superman, partyin’ from the bottom to the top!” “Steal Away Your Love” has Brent lookin’ for a “partner in crime” to “break and enter your heart,” with piano from Rick Steff. Brent gets his swagger on with the chunka-chunka strut of “I’m your Downtown Train,” and busts out the wah-wah again for a session from “the love doctor,” with a lady wearin’ that hot-lookin’ “Black Dress.”

Brandon Santini’s harp drives the freight-train beat of the title cut, referring to the distance between Memphis and St. Louis, and the fellows close the set with a buzzsaw cover of “Jesus Just Left Chicago.”
We had two favorites, too. A lover who’s long gone is the subject of “Out All Night,” and Brent’s slow-burnin’ lead lines on this one make you feel his pain. And, at the opposite end of the spectrum is Brent kicking off “Traveling Riverside Blues” with sweet acoustic work before blasting off into the stratosphere and singing ’bout those “women in Vicksburg, clean on up to Tennessee!”

Today the temperature in Music City was a robust 92 degrees, but that ain’t nothin’ compared to the heat laid down in “300 Miles To Memphis” from Mississippi Fever! Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society - Donandsherrysbluesblog


"Mississippi Fever 300 Miles to Memphis"

The album was recorded at the world famous Ardent Recording Studios in Memphis, TN. Engineered by Adam Hill (George Thorogood and the Destroyers, The White Stripes) with guest appearances from Rick Steff of Lucero, Brandon Santini, and Steve Grimes. Brent Barker on guitar, Ted May on bass and Tom May on drums this three piece lay down a Mississippi groove in fine style (they are from St. Louis), The album has ten tracks of which eight are originals, exceptions being ZZ Top’s Jesus Just Left Chicago which starts with a lovely acoustic intro before it lays into the groove and Travelling Riverside Blues. I Feel Like Superman is the opener and the rhythm sets the scene, Steal Away Your Love returns to a swampy feel with a catchy line to it throughout, ‘Till The Sunrise funks along nicely thankyou, Black Dress goes easy on you with tasteful guitar, the title track pops in down the line at number eight and motors along some with its’ skippy beat, The Devil’s Got You Now has some menace to it that does not quite threaten when you think it might. All in all a good and consistent album for their first release and I for one will look forward to their next effort - BLUES MATTERS U.K.


"Mississippi Fever 300 Miles To Memphis"

“…The very finest handmade, polynuclear, unsmoothed, untamed, fresh and unspoilt Blues..”

The trio MISSISSIPPI FEVER from St. Louis in Missouri plays together since the year of 2009. The cast forms Brent Barker together with the brothers Ted and Tom May. They are all rooted in the blues. They do well with their second studio album "300 Miles To Memphis" strongly significantly (the self-titled debut album was published in 2010).
The very finest handmade, polynuclear, unsmoothed, untamed, fresh and unspoilt Blues in collaboration with well einzustufendem Blues Rock. So could ultimately be the conclusion of this review, taken by Adam Hill in Memphis, Tennessee and-mixed and Kevin Nix (also in Memphis) mastered recording.The Studio Guest Steve Grimes, Rick Steff and Brandon Santini grab the three extremely professional acting principal actors in this wherever it under your arms and make theirs the absolute outstanding result.
"300 Miles To Memphis" prepares the followers of Blues and Blues Rock US origin certainly a lot of fun. MISSISSIPPI FEVER expected by their own material and the adaptations of two numbers of Robert Johnson (Traveling Riverside Blues) and ZZ TOP (Jesus Just Left Chicago) next Altfans certainly can win one or the other newly interested for this stylistic orientations. And that would be simply priceless. - Hooked on Music


"Mississippi Fever - 300 Miles to Memphis"

Mississippi Fever has been together as a band since 2009. Guitarist/vocalist Brent Barker and bassist Ted May have known each other for over 25 years, playing together off and on until a jam with Ted’s brother Tom (drums) in 2008 led to the formation of Mississippi Fever six years ago.

300 Miles to Memphis is the band’s second album and a highly enjoyable slice of blues-rock it is too. The album features eight self-penned songs, together with covers of Robert Johnson’s “Traveling Riverside Blues” and ZZ Top’s “Jesus Left Chicago” and the two covers are a pretty accurate reflection of Mississippi Fever’s influences and sound. Opening with “I Feel Like Superman”, a wah-wah-inflected funky rock song with great keys from Steve Grimes, Barker’s warm, husky voice sings “Get Your Body Feeling Free, come on here, sit down next to me. It’s time to liberate your mind. Let’s get it started, ain’t wasting no time. I feel like Superman with a master plan.” The May brothers’ rhythm section nails down the Hendrixian groove with authority.

“Traveling Riverside Blues” is next up, with the band nicely updating Johnson’s classic. They start with single noted acoustic guitar and subtle rhythmic backing from the May boys, replacing Johnson’s classic slide guitar riff with a cool descending run, before overdriven guitar and more assertive drums and bass kick in on the second verse. Barker’s singing is a particular pleasure on this track, truly inhabiting the lyrics.

The ZZ Top-ish “Steal Away Your Love” is a fine, slower-paced groove, with guest Rick Steff adding sensitive piano before the pace picks up again with the funky riff-based “Downtown Train”. Barker is a fine guitar player with a gritty, slashing style that suits the music perfectly, playing short, muscular solos that never overstay their welcome. He cleverly varies the texture of songs by adding wah-wah (“Black Dress”) or using an acoustic in unexpected places (that last song….) And when he steps up to solo, the May brothers perfectly demonstrate the art of filling out (but not over-filling) the spaces that inevitably arise in any trio group. Grimes and Steff add keys to a couple of songs and Brandon Santini adds fine harp to the rollicking title track.

One of the highlights of the album is “Jesus Just Chicago”, which the band again re-works in an innovative fashion. Staring with a solo acoustic guitar playing a single note descending riff that contains echoes of the band’s earlier re-working of “Traveling Riverside Blues”, Barker suddenly merges in one of the reverend Willie G’s patented turnarounds and the band kicks off the ZZ Top classic. Apart from the added keys of Rick Steff, at the first it sounds like they are playing a relatively faithful recreation of the original, with Barker even channeling Billy Gibbons’ guitar style on the first verse of the first solo. But then the guitar drops away entirely and the rhythmic section pull back, highlighting Steff’s subtle keys and Barker’s voice, before the band builds the tension back up as Barker returns for a second solo. Great stuff.

Recorded and mixed at the legendary Ardent Studios in Memphis, 300 Miles to Memphis is a fine album of good-time barrel-house party blues-rock. If your tastes lean towards late-era Buddy Guy, early-era Johnny Winter or any-era ZZ Top, you will find a lot to enjoy in this release.

Reviewer Rhys Williams lives in Cambridge, England, where he plays blues guitar when not holding down a day job as a technology lawyer or running around after his children. He is married to an American, and speaks the language fluently, if with an accent. - Blues Blast Magazine


Discography

Mississippi Fever © 2010
Self Produced

Photos

Bio

Mississippi Fever have been together since 2009. However, Ted and Brent have known each other for about 25 years, playing together briefly in Los Angeles, where Brent was working as a TV and movie soundtrack sideman, and Ted as a hired-gun bassist for multiple LA bands. They reconnected by chance in St. Louis in late 2008, when Brent moved there to be closer to his wife's family. When Brent and Ted, with brother Tom, jammed one night, making up several songs on the spot, the club owner immediately booked them. The rest, as they say, is history.

 

"My mom got me an electric guitar through the JC Penney mail order catalog, and I thought it was the coolest thing I'd ever seen. I played in bands throughout high school and later moved to Los Angeles where I spent many years playing clubs on the Sunset Strip and recording guitar parts for movies and television shows including Walker Texas Ranger. I toured all over the country with a variety of bands. I stopped playing guitar for around 10 years before moving to St. Louis and hooking up with my old friend from Los Angeles, Ted May bassist to form Mississippi Fever.“ Brent Barker

 

"I‘ve been playing bass for some 30+ years. My Dad made me go to the church youth group and they needed a bass player. I had a bass. My first bass was a Univox and for $50 I bought this little amp that I proceeded to blow up because I had it cranked to 11 all the time. After that we would buy cheap amps and Radio Shack 15" bass speakers and make our own cabs, many of them. That's probably why I am such a gear head now. I have toured the U.S. and Canada with CBS/Sony recording artist Pavlov's Dog, Blind Pig recording artist Studebaker John, and countless other bands. My playing has been featured in Guitar Player magazine, Guitar for the Practicing Musician, Guitar World, Burnn (Japan), and Screamer magazine." Ted May

 

"A native of South St. Louis, my early playing experience includes high school marching/concert bands and rock bands in the 70's and early 80's. My earlier drumming influences include Danny Seraphine (Chicago) and Don Brewer (Grand Funk). I have performed at major St. Louis clubs and appeared in live performances / interviews on regional network and cable TV as well as local radio. I have performed and recorded with Bob Keller, former bassist with Gregg and Duane Allman and opened for Chuck Berry, Anthony Gomes, and Hamilton Loomis. I’ve also had the honor of performing at midwest blues festivals, sharing the billing with artists such as Michael Burks, Ike Turner, and Little Milton. My primary kit is a DW Collector's Series Birch drumset with Zildjian cymbals.“ Tom May

Band Members