"Reign of Blues"
Percy Fairweather and The Storm
The Winters Brothers Band
Bob “The Treetop Flyer” Lockward
Reign of Blues is a powerful blues album. “Percy Fairweather” is the name used by the great Dennis Winters of The Winters Brothers Band and “The Storm” is the name taken on by Jamie LaRitz. Dennis handles the bulk of the vocals and plays guitar. Jaimie contributes vocals and plays lead and slide guitar, bass, keyboards, and drums. There are many musicians contributing to this superb production that include Chad Booher, Rick Brothers, and TJ Wilder on drums, and Joel “Taz” DiGregorio and Phil Wolfe on B3 organ. Dave Murphy also handles keyboard and there is some nice horn work with Matthew Randall on the sax and Charles J Reagan on the trumpet. There are many that lend their talents to the background vocals including Dennis’s daughters and grandchildren.
When I listen to this album, one of the many things that stand out is the unmistakable voice of Dennis Winters. The man’s got soul. Make no mistake, this is a blues album, but when I hear Dennis’s voice I can’t help but think of all the great Winters Brothers Band songs. Then there’s Jamie LaRitz absolutely ripping on lead and slide guitar. The guitar work on all songs between Jaimie and Dennis is excellent, and one of them that really astounds me is on “Don’t Get Me Started” at around 4:32 in the song where they roll into this unreal guitar solo. Just the way it transitions into it is really cool. And the interplay between keyboards and guitar reminds me of Billy Powell and Allen Collins or Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd in the good old days. Or maybe even Charlie Daniels, Tom Crain and “Taz” DiGregorio of the Charlie Daniels Band. This possibly was influenced by the late great Joel “Taz” DiGregorio who plays the B3 organ on this album.
The album kicks off with two slow soulful blues numbers “Baby Hates To Love Me” and “When You Love Somebody”. These two songs showcase the soulful voice of Dennis and the masterful guitar playing of Jamie. Next Percy and The Storm get a little funky with “Try One More Time” and “Go With The Flow”. I believe it is Jamie that has the lead vocal on “Go With The Flow” and he too has a great blues voice. “One Fine Day” is a song of hope that features Dennis a cappella and really demonstrates the amazing range of his voice. He flat out nails it. “Feelin’ Low” is a foot stompin’ blues rocker that will definitely get you movin’. Casey Winters, Dennis’s daughter takes over the lead vocals on “Lesson Learned” and is outstanding. Other compelling songs on this album include “Heroes In Heaven”, “Killin’ Me”, and “Dismal Creek”. The album finishes with the title track “Reign Of Blues”, another impressive slow blues recording. There is also a bonus track at the end in which Dennis delivers an outstanding live version of his a cappella “One Fine Day”. You know how sometimes you may get an album and maybe some of the songs may not be as strong as the others? Not with this album. Every single song is strong from start to finish.
Even though this is a Blues album, I think it is worth mentioning that the list of Southern Rock greats and musicians that Dennis and The Winters Brothers Band have played and toured with is incredible. The list includes Charlie Daniels, Marshall Tucker, Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Outlaws, Molly Hatchet, Grinderswitch, Elvin Bishop, Stillwater, Sea Level, Pure Prairie League, Firefall, Delbert McClinton, Wet Willie, 38 Special, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Blackfoot, Dixie Dregs, and many more. They have also played with Blues legends BB King, Albert King, Freddy King, Clarence Gatemouth Brown and James Brown. Jamie LaRitz played with Black Oak Arkansas, Black Hawk, and the Bret Michaels Band.
When I started writing this review I had no intention of it being this long but when you really start to think about the accomplishments of these musicians, where they have been and who they have played with, well… some things just can’t go unsaid.
I highly recommend this album. If you love the blues or the Winters Brothers Band or just plain good music that will move your soul, you’ll love this one. This is a great collaboration from some very talented musicians and is one of those works of art that just keeps getting better every time I listen to it.