by Ronnie Earl
Ronnie Earl is one of the great guitarists in the history of modern blues. He has toured all over the United States and Europe, playing to audiences large and small, alongside and learning from some of the best musicians in the world. Through it all, at every venue and with every note, Ronnie Earl gave more than one hundred percent, until it was time to come home and live a quiet life in the country, surrounded by a loving and tight-knit community of family and friends.
These days he doesn’t tour too far away from home, instead preferring intimate venues where he can be close to his audience, and remains purposely distant from the logistics of the current music “business".
At this point in his career, Earl believes that all you really need is love. That is, then, the genesis of his sixth album for Stony Plain, the independent roots music label based in Edmonton, Alberta. Spread the Love (SPCD-1347) consists of 14 instrumental tracks, soaked through with energy, passion, drive, serious grooves — and the deepest respect for his mentors and affection for his huge extended family, which includes thousands of fans around the world.
Once again, Earl seems to have “upped” his guitar playing. There is not a single false note on this CD, not an ambitious musical idea that fails to fall perfectly into place, not a second when the keenest of listeners won’t be surprised by his invention, his skill, and his heart.
With his crack musicians — The Broadcasters — Earl has created another varied mix of blues, jazz and soul, all marked by his distinctive guitar style and the passionate conviction he brings to every track. Almost all the material is written by Earl and his band members, although the CD opens with a razor-sharp Albert Collins tune, Backstroke, and the third track is a mid-tempo jazzy romp through Kenny Burrell’s Chitlins Con Carne.
Earl demonstrates his deep faith as he ushers the listener into the spiritual realm with a peaceful offering of Duke Pearson’s Cristo Redentor, and his own prayerful Eleventh Step to Heaven. He shakes things up with the hard driving Miracle, pays tribute to his wife Donna, baseball hero Jackie Robinson, as well as guitarist Duane Allman in Skyman. Dave Limina gives a playful musical nod to pianist Otis Spann in Spann’s Groove, while Lorne Entress’ tranquil Patience unfolds wistfully.
Ronnie Earl continues to spread his message of love and hope – note by note by note.
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