The Paul Nelson Band
Label: Friday Music
Release Date: February 5, 2016
Review Date: February 28, 2016
Johnny Winter fans know who Paul Nelson as Johnny Winter’s “wing man” on the guitar and who helped Winter’s last years alive to be some of the best and healthiest of his life. However, Nelson was not only guitarist to the legendary rock/blues icon but is recognized in his own right as one of today’s premier guitarists.
“Johnny definitely took me under his wing,” Nelson remembers his late friend and mentor. “The blues world does that. One musician hands you the torch, and then you try to run with it. Johnny took pride in turning me on to the likes of Robert Johnson, T-Bone Walker, Muddy Waters Delta, Texas and Chicago blues – all the music that he loved. I knew what he was doing for me, and I am really appreciative for that.”
Worldwide touring has always been a constant in his career. Nelson and his time with Winter was no different, performing and/or recording along side an array of today’s top artists such as: Slash, Vince Gill, Joe Walsh, Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks, Sonny Landreth, Edgar Winter, Leslie West, Susan Tedeshi, Joe Bonamassa, Dickey Betts, Rick Derringer, Brian Setzer, Larry Carlton, Robben Ford and countless others. Major appearances such as television performances on "Late Night with David Letterman" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live" soon followed. This finally led Nelson to perform on and produce “Step Back,” a posthumous, star- studded affair, - pairing him on recordings with Eric Clapton, Billy Gibbons, Joe Perry, Ben Harper and many others, earning both Nelson and Winter Grammy Awards for "Best Blues Album" in 2015. Nelson still feels the loss of his friend and mentor. But he also recognizes that new creative endeavors are ahead.
The formation of The Paul Nelson Band and its debut album, Badass Generation, marks the next step in that evolution. Nelson’s latest project still maintains an unmistakable connection to the blues, but it also finds the guitarist showing his other musical dimensions, from hard-edged, uncompromising rock and blues to acoustic-driven singer-songwriter fare.
On this album Nelson and his newly formed band skillfully incorporate an array of sounds and styles, with what Nelson's fans know to be his calling card: remarkable, world-class virtuosity on the guitar - what you might expect of someone who was also taught by six-string master Steve Vai. "This project has so much input from all of the different styles of music that have influenced me and my band, from blues to classic rock to jam band, pop rock and more. I wanted to play the guitar to serve the songs – and not the other way around. Everything I create has to fit in with the music.” says Nelson.
Nelson’s handpicked co-conspirators include vocalist Morten Fredheim, who turned heads topping the European edition of “The Voice”, bassist Christopher Alexander; and Chris Reddan on drums. Gov’t Mule keyboardist Danny Louis also makes a cameo appearance. The collective result is something that’s musically rooted in the classic era of Led Zeppelin, Free, Bad Company, Skynyrd, Tom Petty, Allman Brothers, Aerosmith and ZZ Top – but right at home with a fresh new take in the 21st century. “We got together and painstakingly worked out these songs before we recorded them. The caliber of the musicians in this band is inspiring” Nelson explains.
Nelson is eager to begin this new stage of his career with his band mates. Songs such as "Keep It All Together" with Fredheim's soaring vocals, and Nelson's classic guitar sounds to "Goodbye Forever", with it's infectious groove and chorus and "Please Come Home" displaying emotional melodies and soulful slide guitar work, all which are among the few future stand out classics found on this album. "I want our music to touch many people in the same way it did us in the making and performing of this album" says Nelson. His only regret? That his old friend wasn’t able to sit in on a few of the tunes. “Johnny Winter's influence will always be a part of me,” he says. “There are many times when I pick up my guitar, and I feel his music. I know he’s with me in a way, but I also have influences from so many other places. Have I now spread my wings? Absolutely. I’m a musician. I have to keep on writing and performing and never stop.”
Johnny Winter fans, in particular, and guitar aficionados in general, will definitely want to add Badass Generation to their listening library.