Longtime Wisconsin bluesman Paul Filipowicz has released some aggressive studio recordings over the years, including several that have made the national blues charts. But his live album Chickenwire really shows him in a different light. Here he's pumped up and looking for a fight, and his pugnacious, self-penned blues are the better for it.
Filipowicz's guitar work on the rumbling title song is greasy and anxious and pretty much everything else live blues riffing should be. Similarly, his vocals are raw and impressionistic, thoroughly suited to a rough 'n' ready barroom set. The album was recorded last summer at the Cuda Café in Deerfield, and subsequently released on Big Jake Records.
At the beginning of "Chickenwire," there's more than a hint of John Lee Hooker in the hypnotic groove that Filipowicz, drummer Brian Howard and bass player Ray Wright lock into. But when Filipowicz lets loose with a savage guitar solo that's heavy on the high end, the mood changes, and the spirit of his late friend Luther Allison inhabits the proceedings for several bars. Then it's back to the Hooker-style pulsing, with the band eventually bringing the volume down in order to showcase Filipowicz's spare use of blues trills and natural vibrato.
If it sounds like a familiar formula, well, it is. But Filipowicz is so jacked up at this point in the set that the performance is shot through with adrenaline -- and, frankly, sexual tension. Can you party to this brand of boogie? Sure. But it'll be the kind of partying that also carries a hint of menace.
An MP3 of the track is available in the related downloads at right. More songs by the bluesman can be listened to on his MySpace page. Filipowicz is performing at the Blues Picnic in the Park on Saturday, June 21, an all-day music festival in Warner Park presented by the Madison Blues Society.
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