Artist: Clarence "The Blues Man" Turner
Album: The Caster Blaster
Label: Uniqek Sound Records
Release Date: 08/01/2015
DC favorite, Clarence Turner, is a multi-instrumentalist who can get folks dancing to his straight-ahead guitar-driven, horn-infused blues. On this, his second release, Turner plays a tasteful guitar and handles the lead vocals on eight originals and three covers. Turner is well known locally for using items other than a traditional guitar pick, including cell phones, microphones and harmonicas. This and other crowd pleasing antics can’t be conveyed on a CD alone, but it’s hard to sit still while listening to Turner’s jump blues. For example, the tune “C.C. Rider” has been covered way too many times, but his swinging interpretation here stands well above most of them.
Turner picked up his love for the blues from his father’s collection of vinyl, struck by Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf at the age of eight. His love and dedication to the blues has earned him a Washington Area Music Association (WAMA) award, and placed him as a Top Ten finalist in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, among many other honors.
Tuner walks a fine line between serious blues and humor, the latter of which is best typified by “Happily Married Man” and a reprise from his 2012 album, the title track “Pay Day.” On my first listen, I found myself thinking about the iconic Cray/Copeland/Collins album, Showdown! because Turner also covers Ray Charles’ “Black Jack,” and his “Mojo Hand” bears a close resemblance to “Black Cat Bone” on that record. Turner is not at their level yet (very few are), but he does show promise. You can tell that he “gets it.”
– Jim Hynes