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Eclectic, odd and joyous blues.

4.0 out of 5 stars -VINE VOICE -Let The Music Rise

From the moment this album starts, the interplay of Volker's electrified slide guitar and the backing mandolin/trombone combo tells you that you are in for a strange ride. All of the music here is rooted in the blues, but the album is all over the map stylistically, and shows Strifler to be a true heir to Ry Cooder's legacy of recordings from the 1970's. Ry spends more time doing movie soundtracks and world music explorations these days, but Strifler shows the same kind of spirit Ry had in the 1970's when he used to mix-and-match various traditions of folk music into a strange amalgam that was somehow comfortable and familiar despite its oddity. Traditional blues, ragtime, R&B, jazz, Caribbean, country--Strifler bounces back and forth between them all, withseveral stops in New Orleans along the way, but he never loses the blues feeling. Most importantly of all, the music is FUN. Despite Strifler's obvious familiarity with so many different traditions, he never comes across as even remotely academic, and despite his obvious debt to Ry Cooder, Strifler always sounds like his own man. The music has more of an edge to it that Cooder's did, and his slide technique owes more to Sonny Landreth than to Ry Cooder. Strifler isn't the jaw-dropping slide virtuoso that Landreth is (and he isn't Cajun), but his slide work, like his fret work, never fails to impress, and most importantly, it is always in service to the music. The odd horn arrangements are as much a focus as Volker's guitar. If you are an open-minded blues fan with broad tastes, and sick of people just trying to imitate dead masters, give this album a try.

Blues Revue

Tightly Meshed Crosscurrents -BluesWax Rating: 8 There’s much to write home about on Volker Strifler’s new release Let the Music Rise, and the timing is perfect for anyone’s Mardi Gras party. The pace is fast, often frenetic, sometimes raucous, but the mixture of instruments has the feel of controlled turbulence, drawing the listener into a whirlwind of tightly meshed crosscurrents. The German-born guitarist moved to the U.S. during his early 20s to get closer to the roots of blues. Here Strifler developed his skills fronting the Ford Blues Band, and has become increasingly popular on the Northern California circuit. He’s prone to long guitar meanderings, which when blended with keyboards, saxophone, and trombone, become innovative explorations into rock, jazz, and Latin rhythms. The occasional tuba part provides a very deep bottom, accentuating the brightness of the other instruments. Though thisrelease is not long on blues numbers, it begins with an honest evocation of Sleepy John Estes’ “Going to Brownsville,” one of only two songs not written by Strifler. His slide playing is exciting, with a rough edge that adds depth. On this piece, and throughout the CD, the horns are always right there. “The Great Escape,” with its dramatic horn section and rockabilly guitar recalls an epic Western movie, while the album’s closer, “Hoogie Boogie,” will further delight fans of that genre, with a taste of Bill Kirchen’s “Hot Rod Lincoln.” “Redemption” is a fiesta of Latin rhythms, over which Strifler plays with the clarity and drive of Duane Allman. It’s more predictable, and therefore less appealing than other numbers. With the tuba prominent, “Jigsaw Puzzle Blues” presents another element of the variety inherent in this recording. Though it’s written by Fleetwood Mac’s Danny Kirwan, fans of Cab Calloway’s “Minnie the Moocher” will feel at home here. There’s more slide blues on the track “Let the Music Rise,” once again with an Allman-esque flavor, after Strifler opens with the guitar plucking of a Keb’ Mo’ country-blues tune. “It’s Getting Late,” about a man who’s “contemplating original sin” while “on a date with a bottle of gin,” switches gears again, going honky tonk with an added element of the good-time laziness of John Sebastian or Jesse Colin Young. Straight-ahead rock ‘n’ roll, Tommy Castro-style, turns jazzy on “Last Night I Had a Dream,” which, like several other songs, has a theme of hitting the road(“The fruit is always sweeter right across the fence.”) It’s the rhythms that matter on this album. All the elements –blues, jazz, Latin, rockabilly –work extremely well except for the rock ‘n’ roll, which breaks the flow, seeming tired and formulaic. During the vocals, the instruments hover in the background, restless to break in. Though the influence of other artists is evident here, the whole is larger than the sum of its parts. If you’re looking for fresh aural stimulation, Let the Music Rise may get you there.


RobertFeueris a contributing writer to BluesWax and Blues Revue.


Vintage GuitarHis Own Blues


Volker Strifler is best known for his affiliation with the Ford Brothers, acting as their guitarist, and also working on projects with various members of the family, including Robben. WithLet The Music Rise, he takes a big step to move out of the Ford shadow. While this would be filed under Blues, Strifler’s mastery of various forms of music makes it an eclectic mix of tunes. He shows an affinity for New Orleans funk on several cuts, including the opener, “Going to Brownsville.” His slide, as it does on many cuts on the record, glides effortlessly around the vocals, before a funky solo with a deep, sweet tone drops in. Country blues makes several appearances, with the title cut finding Strifler handling Dobro duties before his slightly distorted slide solo turns it into a stomping electric boogie. Stomp, boogie, and country blues drive the instrumental “Hoogie Boogie.” A solo that could easily be full of clichés is exactly the opposite; octaves, chromatic licks, rock and roll, and well-placed 6th chords give the song a feel that wouldn’t occur to most guitarists. “Last Night I Had a Dream” is a spacey, minor-key rock-blues that lets Strifler show off a jazzier side. Before it’s over, he even manages to give a tip of the guitar cap to his old bandmate, Robben. Nine of the 10 songs here are written by the German-born guitarist, and he shows a knack for taking a familiar form of music and making it interesting. The chord changes are not lazy, andthe instrumentation adds an element many blues records don’t. That’s especially true on several cuts that feature a horn section, including some fine tuba playing by Ed Ivey on “Jigsaw Puzzle Blues,” an instrumental with a jug band feel that features Strifler on both slide and standard soloing. Volker’s singing is not the kind that draws you right in, but repeated listening makes you aware that his soulful, on-the money vocals are just what each of these songs needs. Let The Music Rise is testament to the fact that there are players out there who are triple threats musically who don’t always get the recognition they deserve. –John Heidtpg 108 Vintage guitar July 2012

Comments By Other Artists

ROBBEN FORD -Volker Strifler is a beautifulguitarist and a powerful singer. He is also a wonderful songwriter in the blues genre, which is an important contribution in keeping the blues vital. I'm sure after you hear this recording you will be a Volker Strifler fan. I know I am.

LOWELL FULSON -Man, that guy can really play his box!!!

CHRIS CAIN -Volker is the real deal. I love this guy.

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