All Music Guide
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Dr. Blues CD Reviews
Jazz & Blues Report
Juke Joint Soul
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette BlueNotes
The Sunday Night Blues Project
Yahoo! New This Week
Dr. Blues CD Reviews (April 16, 2010)
There’s a big sound coming out of the desert and Big Pete Pearson is its name. Pete shouts blues the way Muddy and Wolf did in the day and his bands crank electric Southside like they were on the shores of Lake Michigan and not snuggled in the Sonoran desert. Pete is a huge and powerful singer who uses phrasing like a stiletto and roaring dynamics like a blues garotte. He is simply killer good. Backed by Bob Corritore’s Rhythm Room All-stars and visited by such luminaries as Duke Robillard, Pinetop Perkins, Henry Gray and Doug James, these original Pete blues soar and swoop through the whole panoply of emotional edge. 10 greats start with his big gun “Don’t Mess With Me (Finger In Your Eye)” with Bob’s Little Walker blowin’ and a cooking shuffle. “Short Change” slow blueses down the line while Bruce Bears B-3s the opening warbles in “The Time Has Come” and Doug James blows fat bari too. What Pete doesn’t pour out ain’t worth hearing ‘cause he’s an original treasure. 8 snaves
– Mark Gresser
All Music Guide (April 2010)
Big Pete Pearson grew up singing and playing guitar and bass in the juke joints of Austin, TX, long before that town became a Mecca for maverick musicians. He sang in church too, but was playing in bars by the time he was nine, including a stint with T.D. Bell & the Cadillacs. He grew up singing alongside his cousin W.C. Clark, today considered the godfather of the Austin blues scene. In his late twenties, Pearson moved to Phoenix, AZ where he is still based. He recorded sporadically when he was young, but has led successful bands in his hometown for decades. His location has hampered his career, which is a shame because he’s an old-fashion blues shouter, with a timeless style and a booming voice that can cut through the volume of even the loudest backing band. His regular group, the Rhythm Room All-Stars, featuring the mighty harp playing of Bob Corritore, backs him up here, and the set also includes a bevy of special guests the likes of Pinetop Perkins, Duke Robillard, and Eddie Taylor, Jr. Corritore’s massive harp, Pinetop’s rolling piano, and Pearson’s vocals dominate the title track, a dark, no-good woman blues, and while Pearson threatens his unfaithful lover with death, the vocal has such playfulness that it’s hard to take seriously. “The Time Has Come” changes pace with Bruce Bears contributing jazzy Hammond B-3 to a mellow shuffle that’s all passion and longing. The woman is still low-down, but here Pearson is full of frustrated passion. Doug James blows some fine bluesy sax to add to the late-night mood. “Sister from the City” is a salute to wild urban women. Pearson’s playful vocal and Corritore’s massive harp ride a lighthearted Chicago groove that makes it hard to stay in your seat. The R&B-flavored “Heartaches” features Robillard’s soulful guitar and Pearson’s wrenching vocal. “That’s That” is a jittery jumping jive outing with Matt Bishop’s energetic boogie-woogie piano taking the tune to another level. “Slippery When Wet” closes the set with its simmering double entendre and more impressive harp work from Corritore. Pearson didn’t start recording regularly until he was in his sixties, which is a shame because his charismatic presence, robust singing, and fine songwriting mark him as a true master.
– J. Poet
Blues Revue (January 2010 / December 2009)
Producer/harmonica player Bob Corritore has made a tradition of working with older blues singers who haven’t gotten the spotlight time they deserve. The latest artist to benefit from that tradition is Big Pete Pearson, a Jamaica native who has been a fixture on the Phoenix, Arizona, blues scene since the late Fifties. Pearson’s expressive tenor is like a nuanced James Cotton. Many of the musicians on Finger In Your Eye come from the ‘traditional” wing of the Chicago blues scene, including guitarists Eddie Taylor Jr and Chris James, and bassist Patrick Rynn. And other guest axmen such as Duke Robillard and Billy Flynn, along with cameos from pianists Pinetop Perkins and Henry Gray, and there’s no way the groove can fail, especially with a master like Pearson at the microphone. What’s best about the album is that the musicians don’t sleep-walk their way through the usual 12-bar patterns. Many traditional-style Chicago blues albums tend to fall into that rut, but the musicians here give each song a unique feel. And Pearson knows how to rise to the occasion – when to play the victim role, when to threaten, or when to give sage advice. In the end, the album works simply because it’s rooted in tradition.
– James Porter
Jazz & Blues Report (September 8, 2009)
Phoenix’s Big Pete Pearson returns with a new CD that follows up his excellent I’m Here Baby (Blue Witch) of which I noted that while called a shouter, his fullthroated vocals reminded me of a youthful James Cotton crossed with Lonnie Brooks. His new disc, like the prior recording features an excellent backing band anchored by the Rhythm Room All Stars; producer Bob Corritore on harmonica, Chris James on guitar, Patrick Rynn on bass and Brian Fahey on drums with guest appearances by Duke Robillard, Johnny Rapp, Billy Flynn and Eddie Taylor, Jr., on guitar; Pinetop Perkins, Henry Gray and Bruce Bears, among those on keyboards; and Doug James on keyboards.
Much of this is solid Chicago-styled blues, like the opening track “Don’t Mess With Me”, a fine shuffle with Pinetop tinkling the ivories which contains the phrase that gives the album its title, or “Short Change”, with Corritore’s wailing harmonica backing Pearson’s menacing vocal with the rhythm section driving the slow groove along. James is such a fine guitarist, who provides support as good as anyone playing in this vein. “The Time Has Come”, seems inspired by Percy Mayfield’s Highway is a Woman”, but is a strong original swinging number with nice sax from Doug James, guitar from Robillard and organ from Bears. Eddie Taylor, Jr. takes the lead guitar on “Back Off” with a nice lazy Jimmy Reed styled shuffle groove. It’s nice to see that Taylor plays in an old school fashion akin to his legendary dad. Some young guitarists would do well to see how it’s really done. “Sister From the City” is a mid-tempo rocker with more nice harp, while “Heartaches” is a slow, doomy blues with Corritore on chromatic, Bears on piano, and Doug James baritone adding to the atmosphere with Robillard guitar fills suggesting a Cobra Records Otis Rush recording.
Henry Gray’s piano is one of the treats on the rollicking “Mastermind”, followed by “That’s That”, a jumping number in the vein of the boogie woogie masters with Matt Bishop pounding some barrelhouse boogie Woogie piano. Chris James takes lead on the rocking “Gambling With My Heart”, as Big Pete sings about his woman playing “Poker with my heart, lost everything we had”. The closing “Slippery When Wet” is another choice original with him talking about his woman being like “rain on a highway, you know it’s slippery when wet, no matter how I try, little girl I haven’t got you yet”.
With terrific lyrics along with a strong delivery and excellent backing, this ten-song album ends on the same high level Big Pete and band opened with. There is little to quibble with on these performances that likely will have wide appeal. Hopefully this disc gets the exposure it deserves.
– Ron Weinstock
Crossroads Blues Society (September 7, 2009)
The world has not heard much about Big Pete Pearson yet. This is pretty strange since the guy was born in 1936 and he is a phenomenal vocalist. After hearing a few bars of his big blues shouting style you will understand how good he is, too.
Pete lives in Phoenix and has become somewhat of a local phenomenon. Bob Corritore is promoting this album of all new tracks and is part of the band backing Pete. The Rhythm Room All-Stars feature Bob and his huge harp sound, Chris James on guitar, Patrick Rynn on bass, and Brian Fahey on drums. A plethora of special guests also drop by to add their magic, including Pinetop Perkins, Henry Gray, Duke Robillard, Billy Flynn, Eddie Taylor Jr., and Doug James.
Pete is a big, round, gentle old man, so the album title and title track don’t do justice to the type of guy that Pearson is. But he has fun with it as he opens the CD and blasts his way through another nine great tracks. His voice is strong and sure, not overdone. He’s a blues shouter of the highest caliber. Complimenting the big vocals are Corritore’s equally big and equally controlled harp work and the great interplay of the band and guest musicians. It’s a joy to listen to these guys work together. I was quite impressed when I saw Pete live last year and his new CD really showcases this guy’s talent. I recommend that you discover him today!
– Steve Jones
Soundguardian.com (Croatia) (September 4, 2009)
Do sada na ovom glazbenom portalu ovaj pjevac nije prezentiran, pa ce ovo biti zaista ekskluzivna promocija vokaliste, koji je na svom albumu Finger In Your Eye okupio više nego impozantnu ekipu blues glazbenika. To samo govori o njegovim kvalitetama i uopce o njegovom statusu medu blues glazbenicima. Radi se o Big Pete Pearsonu, a ovaj njegov album objavila je 7. srpnja izdavacka kuca Southwest.
Od deset ponudenih pjesama jednostavno nije moguce odrediti koja je bolja i efektnija. Uz stvarno dominantnu svirku Big Pete pjeva vrlo nadahnuto sa pojacanim dojmom utjecaja legendarnih ‘blues shoutera’. Ta kvalifikacija i sposobnost znatno je pridonijela da ovaj album zvuci tako bogato, doreceno i usvirano, pa kako i ne bi kada u pratecem i okupljenom bendu Rhythm Room All Stars sviraju: Bob Corritore, Chris James, Patrick Rynn, Brian Fahey, a uz njih su tu i specijalni gosti: legendarni Pinetop Perkins, fenomenalni Duke Robillard, te Henry Gray, Billy Flynn, Eddie Taylor, Jr., Doug James i drugi. Kada procitate ova imena odmah znate da nije rijec o nikakvom bezveznom albumu, da nije rijec o nekom ili necem što nije vrijedno spomena, upravo suprotno albumFinger In Your Eye trebao bi imati svatko, tko imalo drži do svog blues feelinga, ali i statusa.
Opuštena atmosfera i svirka koja samo jasno nadopunjuje izražajni vokal Big Pete Pearsona i daje mu kredibilitet i pravo da jasno odreduje tko je glavni meštar ceremonije. Album je u cijelosti snimljen uživo u studiju, bez apsolutno ikakvih dodatnih intervencija, što samo dokazuje koliko su ‘jaki i snažni’ ovi glazbenici.
Kao i mnogi albumi prije njega Finger In Your Eye zapravo odaje strahoviti spoj tradicionalnih vrednota i modernog pristupa prezentaciji bluesa. Svi gore spomenuti glazbenici daju svaki u svom dijelu jasan i odreden doprinos prezentaciji a kada sve to još i fenomenalno štima i zvuci …nema boljeg.
Svih deset skladbi sa ovog albuma pravi su biseri, koje samo treba pokupiti i dati im prigodu da zasjaju u svoj svojoj raskoši i bogatstvu. Big Pete Pearson idealno se uklapa u cijeli projekt, njegov vokal plijeni svojom zrelošcu i snagom. On je jak i hrapav kada to treba, ali je i senzibilan i milozvucan kada se radi o emocionalnim dionicama u baladama. Big Pete za mene je još jedno otkrice, koje ce tek prerasti u dublje i znacajnije proucavanje i preslušavanje. Od legendarnog i nažalost pokojnog Howlin’ Wolfa nisam imao prigode cuti da tako netko pjeva…jednom rijecju fenomenalno!
Uopce teško je pisati preporuku kada se radi o ovakvim briljantnim ostvarenjima kao što je album Finger In Your Big Pete Pearsona. Stoga, ako ikako možete potražite i osigurajte si svoj primjerak.
– Mladen Loncar – Mike, Petak
Blues In Britain (August 31, 2009)
Big Pete Pearson was “born to sing the blues”, and that’s exactly what he does on Finger In Your Eye – where he is joined by a stellar band comprising Bob Corritore, Chris James, Patrick Rynn, and Brian Fahey. To add even deeper shades of blue, the guest list includes Duke Robillard, Johnny Rapp, Billy Flynn, Eddie Taylor, Jr., Pinetop Perkins, Henry Gray, Bruce Bears, Doug James, and Mark Texeira – a sure sign of the respect in which Pearson is held by his peers.
The set opens with the title track, a menacing Muddy style blues replete with brooding vocals, rattling piano Perkins) and wonderful fat-toned harp. “Mastermind” stays in Muddy machismo territory but Billy Flynn’s guitar is Sumlin inspired, the harp is permeated with James cotton and the piano is pure Henry Gray. “Short Change” has a Junior Wells feel to the anguished vocals but the harp is pure Little Walter the brooding intensity generated echoed by James’ buzzing guitar.
Pearson stays in Chicago for the Jimmy Rogers styled shuffle “Back Off” with great ensemble playing and wonderful Lockwood styled guitar from Eddie Taylor. Jr. “Sister From The City” is a churning shuffle with a Billy Boy Arnold feel to the harp – Big Walter Horton comes to mind on the brooding “Slippery When Wet” – whilst my personal favourite, “Heartaches”, brings to mind Carrie and Lurrie Bell in the harp, the intensity of the guitar (Robillard) and the palpable pain and frustration that permeates the vocals. “That’s That” is a boogie fired by Matt Bishop’s rumbling piano – Gambling With My Heart” is a swinging West Coast blues with slashing guitar – whilst on “The time Has Come” Pearson sounds like a downhome Jimmy Witherspoon backed by smoky sax (Doug James), jazz inflected organ and beautifully understated guitar (Robillard).
Don’t take Pearson’s advice and put a Finger In Your Eye – put your hand in your pocket and buy this great set.
– Mick Rainsford
AltCountryForum.nl (Netherlands) (August 11, 2009)
Bluesharp specialist Bob Corritore is niet alleen een goede muzikant, maar hij is als producer ook succesvol. Altijd op zoek naar talent. En daar is Big Pete Pearson. Hij is sinds de jaren vijftig muzikaal actief. Zijn weg heeft die van Corritore gekruist. In 2007 nemen de heren de cd I’m Here Baby op. Nu al weer twee jaar later is de opvolger Finger In Your Eye uitgekomen. Al wonen de mannen in de staat Arizona zij geven de voorkeur aan Chicago Blues, althans zo kun je de nieuwe schijf van Big Pete Pearson plaatsen. Optimisten en bluesliefhebbers noemen hem zelfs ‘Arizona’s King Of The Blues’. Die aanbeveling in combinatie met Bob Corritore maakt op zijn minst nieuwsgierig. Op de hoes van de nieuwe cd lijkt het inderdaad alsof Big Pete Pearson je in de ogen prikt, maar hij doet het gelukkig wel met een glimlach. Met het eerste nummer “Don’t Mess With Me” geeft meneer duidelijk aan dat de dames hem niet in de maling moeten nemen. Als luisteraar moet je dat ook maar niet doen, want tien songs lang laat hij zijn kunsten uitstekend horen. Geen covers, maar wel allemaal eigen werk met hier en daar wat hulp van anderen. De stem van Big Pete klinkt doorleefd met af en toe wat schorre nootjes. In de geweldige song “Back Off” borduurt de bluesman voort op het openingsnummer met een 12-bar tempo die je verleidt tot verder luisteren. “Mastermind” is een heerlijke bluessong met prima piano, gitaar en niet te vergeten Corritore’s bluesharp. Al met al een uitstekende schijf. Finger In Your Eye mag er zijn. Of Big Pete Pearson zonder de inzet van zijn muzikale bluesvriend Bob zover gekomen zou zijn is de vraag. En waar was hij al die jaren daarvoor? Rondzwervend van de ene naar de andere juke joint en nu op cd waar je maar wilt.
Bluessource (August 11, 2009)
The latest recording by the gigantic singer known as Big Pete Pearson is a wonderful set of true authentic blues that burn into the soul the type of music we consistently strive for. Subsequent releases by Big Pete were just as gritty, coarse and powerful as this one, and the listener finds that the real stuff is still out there when Pete belts out his blues. Backed by the Rhythm Room All-Stars and led by the club’s proprietor, record producer Bob Corritore, it features a stunning array of special guests that most blues lovers have come to know through the years. Pianists Pinetop Perkins and Henry Gray as well as other ivory players. Guitarists Duke Robillard, Billy Flynn, and Eddie Taylor, Jr. also fill the bill as guests. Of course, the binding, big toned harmonica of Mr. Corritore rolls through these tracks with a taste of Chicago blues, complementing Pete’s incredible vocal style that he has come to be known for. With 10 original tracks laid down here, one can expect a fresh perspective of songs centered around Pete’s spell binding vocal persona.
These tunes are tough, heartfelt blues, with meaningful lyrics. There are one or two slower numbers like the brooding, distant sound of “Heartaches”, which is a great addition to this CD, but mostly it’s just some great rolling tunes like the title track “Don’t Mess With Me (Finger In Your Eye)” and tunes like “That’s That” and “Back Off”. Especially enjoyable is the jump blues of “The Time Has Come”, which also renders a soft tempo and features some horn players as well. Of course Bob’s house band includes Chris James on guitar, Patrick Rynn on bass, and Brian Fahey on drums. Other players help out on this recording as well besides those mentioned above. Hey, if you’re needing a blues fix real bad and can’t seem to be satisfied with the same ole- same old, then check out this new one by Big Pete. You’ll be put into another level of blues that you might have thought disappeared somewhere. Just be careful not to get your eye poked out listening to this one.
– Dirk Wissbaum
The Alternate Route (August 2009)
My guess is that unless you’re from Austin or Phoenix you’re not familiar with Big Pete Pearson. Once you listen to this disc though, you’ll immediately understand that he is no newcomer to the blues. On the contrary, he has a voice that just oozes that earthy authenticity and hard earned wisdom that only the true masters possess. Combine that with flawless phrasing, menacing tone, and backup musicians who know how to play straight-ahead, no gimmicks blues and you’ve got a must listen. Credit Bob Corritore who runs the infamous Rhythm Room in Phoenix where Pete and many other blues greats have played, and who produced this recording as a follow –up to Big Pete’s 2007 release, [Big City Blues. Bob, a fine harpist , also plays on many of the tracks, and supports Pearson with a guest list of impeccable talent Along with stalwarts Chris James on guitar and Patrick Rynn on bass (Rhythm Room All-Stars), Pinetop Perkins and Henry Gray guest on piano while Duke Robillard’s band back Big Pete on a couple of tracks. There’s no need to highlight any particular selections as this is completely solid throughout whether at a slow blues or boogie tempo. Pearson, who has been on the circuit in the U.S. and Europe for five decades, now resides in Phoenix and no trip to the “Valley of the Sun” would be complete without visiting The Rhythm Room. In the meantime we can just listen to the blues the way they should be played and gloriously sung.
– Jim Hynes
Blues Festival E-Guide (July 24, 2009)
Born in Jamaica in 1936, Big Pete Pearson relocated to Texas with his parents as a child. He began his musical career in the juke joints of Austin’s East side, playing bass alongside the likes of T.D. Bell, Blues Boy Hubbard, and Pete’s younger cousin, W.C. Clark. After playing a few gigs in Phoenix, Arizona in the late 50’s, Pete relocated there and quickly became the de facto King of the Arizona blues scene. Big Pete remained a pretty well-kept local secret until his 2007 release, I’m Here Baby on Blue Witch Records, which introduced Pete to the worldwide blues community as a first-class Blues shouter.
Finger In Your Eye, released by Southwest Musical Arts Foundation Records through the VizzTone label group, promises to solidify his stature as a veteran master of the blues. By now, Big Pete Pearson’s powerhouse vocals and larger-than-life stage persona have delighted audiences around the world.
Produced by Bob Corritore, Finger In Your Eye is Pete’s first all-original blues album, featuring 10 of his own compositions. Big Pete is nimbly backed on this CD by his touring band, the Rhythm Room All-Stars: Bob Corritore (harp), Chris James (guitar), Patrick Rynn (bass), and Brian Fahey (drums). As usual, Pete has attracted a bevy of very special guests, including Pinetop Perkins, Duke Robillard, Henry Gray, Billy Flynn, Doug James, and Eddie Taylor, Jr.
The Sunday Night Blues Project (July 16, 2009)
Big Pete Pearson is the King of Arizona Blues. This is only his 3rd CD in a career that began back in the 50s, but this is no nostalgia act. Finger In Your Eye is a fine disc, produced by Bob Corritore. Pearson wrote all ten songs here. Backing Pearson is the Phoenix-based Rhythm Room All-Stars–Bob Corritore on harp, Chris James on guitar, Patrick Rynn on bass, and Brian Fahey on drums–along with guest appearances by a who’s who of great players: Duke Robillard, Johnny Rapp, Eddie Taylor, Jr. and Billy Flynn on guitars, Pinetop Perkins, Henry Gray (whose piano work almost steals the show on “Heartaches”), Matt Bishop, Michael Kocour, and Bruce Bears on piano and organ, and Doug James on bari saxophone. I would have LOVED to be a fly on the wall at these sessions. Everybody plays great, every song is a timeless slice of Chicago style blues, and Big Pete may be the finest living blues shouter out there. If you hesitate because you haven’t heard of Big Pete before, it’s time you got wise. What else can I say? If you have even one drop of blues-loving blood in your veins, you will love this disc. A welcome addition. You need to buy this CD at http://www.vizztone.com.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette BlueNotes (July 14, 2009)
As it happens, BlueNotes has once again fallen behind in his CD reviews. As it also happens when that happens, I usually take the oldest ones first. Not today. I’m taking my favorite one out of the pile because it’s too good to ignore much longer, and also because it contains some of my favorite kind of blue, from Big Pete Pearson, a Phoenix, Ariz., blues shouter. Yes, Phoenix (Where even the blues can rise from the ashes).
What I love about this music is that Big Pete is a blues shouter from the old school. Born in Jamaica in 1936, his family moved to Austin, Texas, when he was but a lad, and he eventually came of age in the Austin blues scene, playing bass with, among others, his younger cousin W.C. Clark. In the late ‘50s, he relocated to Phoenix, where he’s remained not only a fixture, but a local legend with his big, steady rolling vocal style.
In 2007, he hit the national blues scene with his Blue Witch (love that label name) recording, I’m Here Baby, with classic covers of classic blues.
This time, he’s out and about with Finger In Your Eye, an all-original album filled with new, but still classic material written by a bluesman who’s been there and done that. The CD was released by Southwest Musical Arts Foundation Records through the VizzTone label group.
Simply put, it’s a fine CD. Pearson is 72, but his music is filled with youthful passion and lusty vigor. The voice is rough around the edges, but sandpaper smooth. He caresses the ballads just the way they need to be caressed, and jumps into songs that swing hard, sweet and low. His backers, the Rhythm Room All-Stars, give him all the room he needs, but drive when needed. They’re a great combination. They get fine help from some other all-stars, including Pinetop Perkins, Henry Gray and Duke Robillard.
Blues shouters are a vintage that has pretty much disappeared. From Big Joe Turner, Jimmy Rushing and Joe Williams to Jimmy Witherspoon, they represent a great blues tradition. Pick up on Big Pete Pearson and enjoy a little more of the real thing while you can.
Phoenix blues harpman Bob Corritore, who plays on this album, has a blues newsletter, in which he reports that “Finger In Your Eye” was number one on the Collectif des Radios Blues charts in the month of June. The CRB charts are compiled from the playlists of numerous French, Belgian, and Canadian blues radio shows. Of course, we all know how much the Europeans love their classic American blues.
– Jim White
FunkJelly.com (July 8, 2009)
All you wannabe young pimps, get a good look at Big Pete. Now that’s a pimp hat! Pete’s too old to give you the backhand, but he’s about to go Moe, Larry and Curly on your ass. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.
Yahoo! New This Week (July 7, 2009)
As days wear on, each and every one of us gets more and more inundated with product–and it’s only a select few that can stand out as offering that something special that makes us want to pick it up and give it a listen! In this case, if I can be candid, I find myself incredibly drawn toward an album cover that breaks all social standards by offering an actual finger in one’s eye–how unpleasant!–as well as that remarkable red hat! I’m told that Mr. Pearson is regarded as Phoenix’s king of the blues; perhaps that’s why those who purchase this album through Amazon often purchase it with the Secret Diary Of A Call Girl Season 2 DVD! He’s that good!
– Dave DiMartino
About.com (July 2009)
The king of the Arizona blues scene since the 1950s, the Jamaican-born Pearson has only recorded sporadically since the turn of the decade, pursuing a ramshackle Chicago-blues sound that showcases his blustery vocals. Featuring guest appearances by guitarist Duke Robillard and blues piano legend Pinetop Perkins, Finger In Your Eye is only Pearson’s third album release during a career that has spanned better than five decades, and it promises to finally put this blues survivor on the map.
– Reverend Keith A. Gordon
Blues Bytes (July 2009)
For as long as I can remember, Big Pete Pearson has been the King of the Blues here in Arizona. Definitely a lover, not a fighter, Big Pete is back with a great disc of all original tunes, Finger In Your Eye, on the VizzTone label. This record is so good that only reason I got out of my La-Z-Boy chair was to hit play again when it ended. So let’s get to it.
The title cut, “Don’t Mess with Me (Finger In Your Eye)”, opens with a rousing harmonica solo by Bob Corritore as the band settles in behind Pete so he can tell us his tale. Here we find that Pete is not a man to be trifled with, and if you do, watch out. “Got a lot of money…and a brand new car…I know your loving is good…but stay where you are….don’t you mess with me!” The girl’s fine, but Big Pete’s been around the block, and he’s not going to put up with her crap.
Big Pete continues to draw the line on our next cut, “Short Change”. “I work hard every day…you treat me like a fool…two-time game you’re pulling, girl…you know I can’t use…hey baby…I’m sure going to draw a line…I want you to give all your money…where you spend your time!” Time for this girl to get out, and don’t come back. Bruce Bears on the organ and Duke Robillard’s guitar support Pete’s effort to win his female companion over in our next cut, “The Time Has Come”. “I toss all night…sometimes I just can’t help but cry…I toss all night long…I just can’t help but cry…little bit of that love, girl…you know Big Pete is satisfied”. The baritone sax of Doug James lends a nice degree of sophistication to Duke’s guitar work on this laid-back shuffle. Pete continues to tell this girl how he feels, but it just doesn’t seem that she’s buying what Big Pete is selling.
Sweet notes from Chris James’s guitar provide the background to our next tune, “Back Off.” Here we find that Pete is getting played by a married woman and she needs to let it go before she finds herself in over her head. “You keep on messing with me…I’m going to ruin your happy home!” Pete’s message is crystal clear, and she’ll be in better shape if she just “backs off.” Pete’s next tune, “Sister From the City”, testifies to the fact that city women play the game in a slightly different manner. “Sister from the city…always hanging around…always a boogieing…oh, they know how to get down…a little bit of gin and Mary Jane…oh, they know how to boogie…they know how to get their man!”
Joy turns to sorrow as Pete tells us about the pain he’s feeling in “Heartaches”. “Why did you leave me…why did you make me cry…you didn’t love me, baby…please, please…tell me the reason why!” Bruce Bears is back on the piano this time and Duke continues to utilize his fretboard genius to convey Big Pete’s pain and sorrow for this woman he loved so much. Mournful tones from Bob Corritore’s harmonica add the final brushstrokes to the sadness found in this tune.
Henry Gray’s nimble fingers can be heard on the ivories on Pete’s next cut, “Mastermind”. “You gave me everything I need…sometimes I thought it was enough…but bucking all your emotions, girl….sometimes I just want to give it up!” Big Pete’s woman had all the tools she needed to have him fall in love with her, persuading him to keep her is an entirely different matter. Big Pete is definitely firm in a decision once he makes it and he continues to reiterate that point in our next tune, “That’s That”. “You left me baby…and that’s that…you hurt me real good…you know it hurt so bad…ain’t no use…trying to bring it back…that’s the end, girl…you know that’s that!” Always willing to risk everything in the pursuit of the woman he’s attracted to, Big Pete tells us that “if love were money, I’d be the brokest man alive” and he writes about it in “Gambling With My Heart”. “You know I’m tired of it baby…and I’m sick of your jive!”
Finger In Your Eye closes with an effort by Big Pete to educate women on the ways of love in “Slippery When Wet”. “You’re like rain on a highway…you know it’s slippery when it’s wet…no matter how hard I try…little girl…I haven’t got you yet.” Big Pete’s woman has a way of lying to him and he’s tired of it…”I’m so sad and sick of your lies!” This relationship is not going to end on a good note, and Big Pete’s done all he can.
Backing Big Pete on this record are the very capable hands of the Rhythm Room All-Stars, with Bob Corritore on harp, Chris James on Guitar, Patrick Rynn on bass and Chris Fahey behind the drum kit. Add a host of guest performances from Pinetop Perkins, Duke Robillard, Bruce Bears, Henry Gray, and others, and this gumbo is smoking hot and ready for your CD player. Probably the best place to grab a copy of this disc is from Pete’s label, VizzTone, at http://www.vizztone.com. And if you don’t mind, I’m headed back to my La-Z-Boy for one more listen of this new disc from our King of the Blues.
– Kyle Deibler
Bisbee Observer (June 25, 2009)
You’d do well with a Finger in Your Eye
I first saw Big Pete Pearson and the Rhythm Room All-Stars a few years ago when they opened for B. B. King at Tucson ’s Desert Diamond Casino, where they performed very impressively (as Mr. King himself commented). Last year, I had the good fortune to see them perform as part of the Sliver City and Bisbee Blues Festivals. The band will be returning for the BBF 2009, opening for the headliner, Tommy Castro. Fans of Big Pete and his All-Stars can ease their anticipation with the release of the band’s new CD, Finger in Your Eye (VizzTone Label Group), while the interested but as yet uninitiated can hear now what they’ll be seeing here in a few months.
Pete Pearson is a barrel-chested veteran blues singer who knows how to work his booming, soulful voice to convey a range of emotions; throughout Finger in Your Eye, he deftly shifts from sweetness to menace, from heartache to defiance, always selling the feeling as genuine.
While it may seem that the Rhythm Room All-Stars (named after the club that harmonica player, Bob Corritore runs in Phoenix ) sport a self-aggrandizing moniker, the fact is they can walk the walk. They’ve backed Pearson around the country and abroad, and that hard earned experience gives the disc the sound and feel one should expect from a journeymen blues act. Also on hand to loan their talents are a list of guest artists, including Grammy-winning pianist, Pinetop Perkins and guitarist Duke Robillard, who is the featured artist on the cover of Blues Revue magazine for June/July 2009.
Big Pete and the All-Stars, however, are the meat and potatoes on Finger in Your Eyeand you can get a heaping plate when they gig here in the fall.
– Dave Resto
Bobtje Blues (Belgium) (June 19, 2009)
Krijg ik een cd’tje van Bobtje toegezonden, waarop de band van onze nieuwe medewerker Bob Corritore de begeleiding verzorgt. Vooraf bedenk ik mij dan, dat ik voorzichtig moet zijn in mijn commentaar om hem niet teleur te stellen. Maar na het beluisteren van de cd blijkt mijn angst totaal ongegrond te zijn. Dit is misschien wel het beste wat er is uitgekomen dit jaar op het gebied van authentieke Chicago blues. In een eerder verschenen artikel op deze site is te lezen dat Corritore bandleider en harmonicaspeler is van ‘The Rhythm Room All Stars’, de huisband van de in Phoenix/Arizona gelegen bluesclub ‘The Rhythm Room’. Op deze cd begeleiden zij, samen met diverse gasten, de zanger ‘Big Pete Pearson’(72 jr.) die al sinds de jaren vijftig zijn kunsten vertoont in diverse bands. Big Pete is een echte ‘Blues Shouter’ en met zijn indrukwekkende stemgeluid weet hij het juiste Chicago bluesgevoel vorm te geven. ‘Finger In Your Eye’ bevat tien nummers allemaal van de hand van Big Pete zelf. De cd opent lekker rauw en uptempo met niemand minder dan ‘Pinetop Perkins’ op de piano en al snel is mij duidelijk dat Corritore, die tevens de productie van dit schijfje voor zijn rekening neemt, een uiterst bekwame mondharmonica speler is. In het nummer ‘The Time Has Come’ maakt de band plaats voor die van Duke Robillard. De prachtige opening van Bruce Bears op het Hammond orgel gevolgd door het bariton sax geluid van Doug James, geven dit prachtige nummer een gevoel dat ik kreeg bij de eerste lp van ‘Roomful Of Blues’. Daarna gaat men weer snel over naar de ‘Southside’. Met Eddy Taylor jr. op gitaar volgt het nummer ‘Back Off’. In het rustige nummer ‘Heartaches’ keren Duke Robillard en Bruce Bears weer terug en laat Corritore horen dat hij ook thuis is op chromatische mondharmonica. In de daaropvolgende nummers nemen de pianisten Henry Gray en daarna Matt Bishop het voortouw in de Chicago kraker ‘Mastermind’ en de Boogie ‘That’s That’. De shuffle ‘Gambling With My Heart’ behoort zeker tot de vele hoogtepunten van deze cd. De afsluiter ‘Slippery When Wet’ mag er ten slotte ook zijn. Een slow blues die zo van de hand van good old Muddy Waters zou kunnen zijn. Al met al een prima cd van een geweldige zanger die de echte bluesliefhebber in huis moet hebben!
– Ruud Monde
http://www.RadioDerf.info (Poland) (June 13, 2009)
Jak podaje Bob Corritore 7 czerwca ukazala sie w wytwórni Vizz Tone Boba Margolina nowa plyta Big Pete’a Pearsona ”Finger In Your Eye”, kolejna w dyskografii po wydanej w 2007 roku ”I’m Here Baby”. Towarzyszy mu na niej Rhythm Room All-Stars jednego z wychowanków Big Pete’a Boba Corritore a takze Chrisa Jamesa i Patricka Rynna.
Big Pete Pearson, zwany Królem Bluesa z Arizony, to znakomity wokalista i gitarzysta elektryczny, jedna z czolowych postaci arizonskiego bluesa. Króluje w klubach Phoenix od lat 50-tych, przyciagajac uwage donosnym glosem, potezna postacia i jowialna natura, ojcowal wiekszosci muzyków w Arizonie. Gra Chicago bluesa z niewielkimi domieszkami jazzy urban bluesa i boogie woogie. Na jego muzyce wychowal sie slawny kuzyn Pete’a – W.C Clark. Wspomina on ”Mam kuzyna, Big Pete’a Pearsona. To jego gra wywarla na mnie najwiekszy wplyw. Gral i spiewal bluesa, i wciagnal mnie w to. Kroczylem jego sladami.”. Dzis Pete wystepuje regularnie z towarzyszeniem czterech swietnych mlodych sidemanów w Rhythm Room’ie u Boba Corritore.
Big Pete Pearson urodzil sie 4 pazdziernika 1936 roku na Jamajce, wychowywal jednak u dziadków w niewielkim St.John, kilka mil od Phoenix w Arizonie. Dziadkowie byli gleboko religijni. Dziadek byl kaznodzieja we wspólnocie baptystów, babka prowadzila miejscowa misje. Pete od dziecinstwa kochal muzyke, dziadkowie oplacali mu wiec lekcje pianina ”Nie przepadalem za pianinem, ale uczylem sie chetnie, przeciez byla to muzyka”. Sam nauczyl sie grac na gitarze i basie, babcia uczyla go spiewu. Wkrótce dziewiecioletni Pete zaczal wystepowac na scenie. Dziadkowie sadzili, ze spiewa w chórze koscielnym, tymczasem Pete wystepowal w miejscowych juke-jointach, znany w Austin jako L.P. Pearson. Gral poczatkowo na trzystrunowym basie, akompaniujac Blues Boyowi Hubbardowi i T.D. Bellowi. W polowie lat 60-tych Big Pete przeprowadzil sie do Phoenix. Wystepowal i nagrywal poczatkowo z Jimmy’m Knightem i The Knights of Rhythm. Te wczesne nagrania ukaza sie dopiero w antologii R&B z rejonu Phoenix, przygotowywanej przez niemiecka wytwórnie Bear Family. W latach 70-tych Big Pete prowadzil wiele skladów Driving Wheel, The Detroit Blues Band i Blues Sevilles. Grali w nich zarówno weterani bluesa, jak i poczatkujacy muzyke. Spod jego reki wyszli Bernard Williams (z Dyke And The Blazers), Bob Tate, Fred Robinson i Emerson Carruthers, gitarzysci T.D. Bell, Lucius Parr, Scotty Spenner i Tommy Dukes; Bob Corritore, klawiszowiec Dr. Fish i perkusisci Elmer Scott i Delmar Stewart. Pete gral z legendami bluesa, m.in. Ray’em Charlesem, BB Kingiem, Muddy’m Watersem, Johnem Lee Hookerem.
Juke Joint Soul (June 5, 2009)
Big Pete Pearson is the godfather of Arizona’s blues scene and one of desert’s best-kept secrets. He’s been around since the Fifties in various bands and various forms but always steeped in the blues. With his ominously large size and booming voice, his brand of hard-driving Chicago blues has seen many a band member come and go, including one of Arizona’s best-known artists Bob Corritore. Corritore rounds up his Rhythm Room All Stars and a slew of special guests to deliver this highly enjoyable traditional blues platter.
Pearson’s nasty and mean title track kicks off the album in an upbeat lumpty-lump Jimmy Reed shuffle fashion as the Rhythm Room All Stars accompanied by the great Pinetop Perkins tinkling the ivories underneath. Corritore, who also produces the set, colors the track with his traditional harp barks. Pearson wastes no time and no space with his weathered vocal phrasing of a man who’s lived on the mean side of town. The band keeps the mood up, by jumping into the nasty Chicago-styled blues of “Short Change”. Just like the title suggests, these players slam hard like they’ve not been paid for their gigs. Listeners looking for a Chicago blues treat won’t be shortchanged as Pearson shouts out the track with fervor. The album takes on a jazzy, churchy bounce as Duke Robillard (guitar), Bruce Bears (organ), and Mark Teixeira (drums) switch in some places with the Rhythm Room All Stars, as Pearson vibratos about a moment of eminence with a lover. The Chicago Blues won’t be turned off for very long as the Jimmy Reed-styled bounce kicks back in with the warning “Back Off.” It’s no surprise because Eddie Taylor, Jr. takes over the guitar chores for this one.
“Sister From the City” stays well at home in a Chicago blues melody, reminiscent of Willie Dixon’s penned “Wang Dang Doodle”. Pearson again takes it down to the floor with the aptly titled “Heartaches” a minor key slow blues, which gives ample room for Corritore to display some fine chromatic harp chops and Robillard to return the favor on guitar. Bruce Bears also colors the palette underneath on piano. Henry Gray kicks the band into high gear behind Pearson’s shouts on the return to more rough and tumble Chicago blues called “Mastermind”. Matt Bishop churns out the piano boogie-woogie as Pearson’s blues shouting calls out “That’s That.” By far though my personal favorite is the rockin’ shuffle of “Gambling With My Heart”. Pearson’s lyrics are masterful: “If love was money/I’d be the brokest man alive”. BMA-nominated guitarist Chris James pulls out some Lockwood meets Elmore styled guitar licks that moves this toe-tapping bouncer right along. The stinging slow blues of a moisturized lover “Slippery When Wet” recalls hints of Muddy Waters’ “Can’t Lose What You Never Had” with some double-entendre sprinkled in.
If you are looking for a down home Chicago Blues set, look no further. Pearson is baptized in the tradition from start to finish, with only a few minor deviations into jazzy urban blues and some boogie-woogie. His vocals are timeworn, vibrato-filled, and passionate. The lyrics are all his own, though the grooves maybe sound familiar. Chris James, Patrick Rynn, Corritore, and the guests all give this material a very contemporary “here and now” live performance. Spacing and phrasing are great places to reference here for young players. Pearson may be hidden in the desert but it sure sounds like he’s been a West Side bluesman all his life.
– Ben the Harpman
Arizona Republic (June 4, 2009)
“Nobody can dispute that Pete Pearson is Arizona’s King of the Blues”, says Bob Corritore, Valley harmonica player and nightclub owner. And while Corritore is admittedly biased, having collaborated with Pearson on this album, he speaks the truth.
When Pearson, 72, sings or shouts his lusty take on the blues, people listen. He further burnishes his credentials on his third album, focusing on gritty Chicago blues and backed by Corritore’s Rhythm Room All-Stars, as well as several guests from the Windy City and East Coast.
Corritore and All-Stars guitarist Chris James are wired into Pearson’s vocal variations, dropping in fills and solos that fit like a glove.
Corritore lets rip the first of a handful of nasty harp solos on the album-opening “Don’t Mess With Me”, as Pearson shouts encouragement. James’ guitar work ranges from slinky (“Short Change”) to raging (“Gambling With My Heart”).
Guitarist Duke Robillard, who helped fuel the ’70s resurgence of blues on the East Coast, checks in with his band, including organist Bruce Bears and saxophonist Doug James, to make “The Time Has Come” swing and “Heartaches” moan behind Pearson’s tortured vocals.
Pianist Henry Gray brings seven decades of experience and some honky-tonk stylings to Pearson’s jaunty take on “Mastermind”, while another blues keyboard legend, Pinetop Perkins, spices up “Don’t Mess With Me”.
The thread running through this set is the vocal power of Pearson, who is fearsome when confronting an unwanted lover in “Back Off”, sorrowful in “Gambling With My Heart” and playful in the album-ending “Slippery When Wet”.
Pearson says he is not about to slow down, and this energetic album backs up that pledge.
– Larry Rodgers