Greyhound Blues

If not for this CD, which was recorded last year, most Texans would never have been aware of Beaumont’s Ervin Charles, who died on April 1 at age 68 with little more than two credits on 1999’s Lone Star Shootout CD to show for a storied, fifty-year career. The ferocious blast of guitar and harp (by producer Paul Orta) that kicks off “So Mean To Me” proves that Ervin meant to remedy that. His brash attack and biting tone move effortlessly from the mathematical precision of B. B. King to the cold, hard edge of Albert Collins. He sings with vulnerability and resolve, adding throaty gasps, grunts, and groans that ride the rhythm or answer his guitar gleefully. Though seventies bandmate Richard Earl sings four tracks, Ervin remains the undisputed star, injecting his snaky guitar into the ballad “All I Want Is You,” adding nagging filler licks to his rolling lines on “Sweet Woman’s Love,” and building the Hookeresque “Gulf Coast Boogie” with his rhythm chops and swampy timbre before departing with the textured shuffle “Change Your Way.” Ervin, we hardly knew ye.

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