ST. PETERSBURG, FL – Tampa Bay-based group Backtrack Blues Band announces a September 2 release date for Way Back Home, on Harpo Records, distributed in the USA by Select-O-Hits and in Canada on Flaming Cheese Records. This is the fifth CD from Backtrack Blues Band, which has won three consecutive Tampa Bay Music Awards for “Best Blues Band.” 2016 Blues Music Award-winner Victor Wainwright adds his major chops on piano throughout the album’s 10 tracks, a perfect blend of Chicago blues (a la Paul Butterfield Blues Band) and the rompin’, stompin’ Texas style of the early Fabulous Thunderbirds.
Members of Backtrack Blues Band are Sonny Charles – lead vocals, harmonica; Kid Royal – lead guitar; Little Johnny Walter – rhythm guitar; Joe Bencomo – drums; and Jeff “Stick” Davis – bass. Founded in 1980, this talented blues quintet has been one of Florida’s longest-running original blues bands and takes its name from legendary harmonica player Little Walter’s instrumental, “Backtrack.” Since its inception, Backtrack has been tearing up stages all over the globe, including a recent sojourn north of the border to the Tremblant International Blues Festival in Montreal. Over its history, the band has performed with many of its musical mentors, including Stevie Ray Vaughan, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, Gregg Allman, John Lee Hooker and Johnny Winter.
“This first class band has recorded one of the strongest traditional blues records to date,” writes Blues Music Magazine editor Art Tipaldi in the liner notes for Way Back Home. “Led by the double barrel attack of harmonica ace and lead vocalist Sonny Charles, and the biting Texas blues guitar of Kid Royal, the Backtrack Blues Band is now poised to carry its musical message to a larger audience.”
From the jumping opening track of “Goin’ to Eleuthera” (a song about a beautiful island paradise in the Bahamas), through the original songs and such covers as Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Your Funeral, My Trial” and “Checkin’ on My Baby,” to the driving closer, “Help Me Just This Time,” Way Back Home delivers a constant barrage of great blues riffs and flavors that create a powerful impression. At the core of the band’s sound are the stellar harmonica work and vocals of Sonny Charles and the stinging Texas blues guitar work of Kid Royal. With Little Johnny Walter laying down solid rhythm guitar parts and an in-the-pocket rhythm section of Jeff “Stick” Davis on bass and Joe Bencomo on drums, the Backtrack Blues Band sound is truly greater than the sum of its parts.
“On this studio record, we tried to capture more of a live analog sound,” says Sonny Charles about the recording sessions. “We think the CD has a warm and authentic feel that avoids the sterility that comes with many modern digital recordings.
“We had lots of fun making this album; it was a relaxed journey for the band. Everyone had a great time playing the tunes, and we hope the joy of performing real blues shines through on this record.
“Way Back Home is our fifth album, and I guess we learned from our past projects. This CD really captures the tones and energy we were looking for when we planned the sessions. We think it’s, by far, our best recording effort and truly reflects the ‘Backtrack’ sound.”
Sonny Charles and Little Johnny Walter formed Backtrack in 1980, and have played together for over 35 years. Sonny is an accomplished blues harmonica player, whose tone and style are reminiscent of Little Walter and Paul Butterfield. His devotion to blues music runs deep, as he founded the Tampa Bay Blues Festival in 1995 in St Petersburg, Florida. The festival has since grown into one of America's largest and most-respected blues gatherings, winning a prestigious Keeping the Blues Alive Award (2011) from the Blues Foundation for Best U.S. Blues Festival.
Kid Royal, originally from London, Ontario, has appeared at many major blues festivals throughout Canada and America, and his style is influenced by the great Texas guitar players. He is widely respected as one of the very top guitarists in Florida.
Joe Bencomo is an exceptional drummer, who has played in the best blues and jazz bands in Tampa Bay for over 40 years. Little Johnny Walter adds solid rhythm guitar and backup vocals to the band. He met Sonny at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where they first formed a band while attending college at UNC; and they've remained great friends and musical collaborators ever since those early days. Jeff “Stick” Davis is a gifted bass player, won a Grammy as a founding member of the Amazing Rhythm Aces, and has traveled the world, touring with BB King, John Mayall, Al Green, Jesse Winchester, Pure Prairie League, and others. He was also an in-demand bassist for many years at Memphis and Nashville recording sessions.
“Goin’ to Eleuthera” audio link: