Reviews, News, & Notes
Lightnin’ Rod & The Thunderbolts “Delta Time”. Memphis Blues Records 2017.
Here comes the new piece of work by singer and guitar player Lightnin' Rod, an artist who has in his DNA such varied influences like Muddy Waters, Bob Seger or Eric Clapton to only mention some of the most popular and familiar to general audiences, without forgetting 70’s British pop which also feeds his music, although all these influences can be found in a more spiritual than practical way. In this new work Rod keeps the personal seal which has always been a differential element, both in his singing than in composing or guitar playing. As instrumentalist Rod has got a really effective but at the same time soft phrasing technique, which makes as a result a convincing effective sound that can be immediately enjoyed in every song he plays. Once again The Thunderbolts exceed the musical requirements expected, giving the firm basis and substance to make Lightnin' feel totally comfortable. In this way, the band provides all the needed resources to ensure the songs beauty, that will be easily savoured by all listeners. This is a restrained but at the same time natural and dynamic album, I dare say listeners will immediately enjoy in every aspect. VERY GOOD.
Vincente Zumiel - La Hora Del Blues (Feb 1, 2018)
This album was recorded in Somerset. Ah, I thought, West Country blues rock. Then I realised it was Somerset in Kentucky. Rod Wilson, leader of this trio, has shared the stage with members of the Allman Brothers, Bob Seger, The Steve Miller Band, Cher, Stevie Nicks, Boz Scaggs, Steppenwolf, Chuck Berry, Robert Cray, and Mitch Ryder plus many more. The Thunderbolts are perhaps typical of the modern, mature American blues rock trio which will always find plenty of work in the USA. Nine of these ten songs were written by bandleader, vocalist and guitar man Rod. What's it like? Rod's vocals are well to the fore with that degree of clarity which allows you to hear every word. His guitar playing is impressive enough, and he even includes a sensitive instrumental, Broken Wing, which is dedicated to Jimi Hendrix. He also expresses those many emotions musicians feel with the moody Life Of A Bluesman. As a trio, they make a pretty fat sound, and on When Love Comes Calling, he's underpinned by some fine female backing singers. As with many acts in this style, The Thunderbolts are probably better enjoyed in a live situation, but as a souvenir of a show, this CD would be a firm reminder to go see them again.
Alan - Blues Matters (Jan 26, 2018)
Singer-songwriter / guitarist Lightnin 'Rod Wilson grew up in a town in southeast (the "Wolverine" state) Michigan. Wilson played for several years in several local rock / blues bands, with whom he traveled in the region. In 2004, his debut album "All American Blues" was released and "After The Storm" was released in 2008. As a sequel to 'Guilty of the Blues'  there is now the album 'Delta Time'. Currently, Lightnin Rod's music has been called "Bob Seger Meets Eric Clapton at Muddy Waters' House" but it's hard to push Lightnin Rod's music into a specific box. Throughout the unmistakable portion of blues rock, there are also soul, motown, gospel and acoustic influences. For the ten original tracks (one of which he wrote together with his bass player Jimmy Seville & drummer Greg Kitzmiller) he also drew to the studio Tommy Cates (Harmonica), Roy Edminston (Percussion) and Backing Singers Danielle Gross, Tiffany Bays and Kristi Kitzmiller. For "What I Done Forgot" he received the extra support of Roy Edminston (drums), Shannon Link (bass), Robert Hopps (piano), Jennifer Atkinson Doser (vocals) & Joe Kleycamp (sax). The opener and title song "Delta Time" is familiar with Rod's Resonator and Cates' Harmonica, which we will encounter more often on this trip. "Addicted to Something" we all are! "When I Loved You" is a Southern tinted rocker with a separate lineup and "What I Done Forgot" is a funky shuffle. "Low Down Funky Blues" adds a swampy sequel to this and in the slow rocker "Out of the Darkness" Rod warns us about the future, which he claims to be ominous. Rod still has many open questions in "What Was I Thinking" and the slow blues "Broken Wing (for Jimi)" is a handsome instrumental homage with Rod's guitar in the lead. The shutter "Life of a Bluesman" is the most bluesy song of this album. It floats on an infectious repetitive rhythm and drives Tommy Cates' harmonica grooves very well. “Delta Time” is a blues album that will also attract the attention of rockers and soul lovers.
Eric Schuurmans - Rootstime (Oct, 2017)
Latest review from the prestigious, international blues magazine(Blues Matters)
LIGHTNIN ROD AND THE THUNDERBOLTS
GUILTY OF THE BLUES
Memphis Blues Records
After spending two years on the road Rod Wilson decided to re-locate his home, firstly from the Midwest to Florida and then finally settling happily in Southern Kentucky, during this time he amassed sufficient material to enable him to be spoilt for choice for the songs on this, his new album. Rod takes lead vocals and plays all guitars and six string banjo, his extremely smooth and well-oiled band are bass players; Calvin Johnson and Shannon Link, on drums and percussion; Tom Delarossi and Roy Edmiston; Bob Hopps on keyboards and harmonica, with Joe Kleykamp providing saxophone and horn arrangements, featuring John Pope on trombone and John Francis on trumpet, with William McNeil on violin. Together they present thirteen original numbers that ooze sunshine filled aural delights. The mellow, laidback funky guitars merge and dance with keyboards that sweetly pepper the air while in the background urging horns and violin tightly entwine, creating an undercurrent of irresistible rhythms that lifts you to your feet. Black Widow and Guilty Of The Blues exemplifies the bands ability to instill and fuse the denser Chicago club guitar feel with a looser swinging, wandering saxophone led southern sound. The fluid rich, ringing guitar work of the very pleasant shuffle entitled Shufflin Sue, wonderfully conveys a hot, languid and stifling Saturday night out in the open air. The rock inflected guitar and slide work on the motorway based I-75 foot tapping lifts and gently drives the groove happily along in the best traditions of the master, Chuck Berry. This album is well suited to a hot afternoon where you groove at a slower pace but still maintain the high standards of blues, soul and rock.
Blues Matters (Jul 28, 2015)
“This last album, "Guilty of The Blues," has a strong message that Lightnin' Rod is trying to convey to the audience. While there is no doubt that Rod has always been a blues rocker at heart, so is such & his music, his blues expression, which carries colored tones of soul & Motown sound, gospel & the inevitable acoustic impact, & in the end, there are sparkling moments of traditional blues. The Thunderbolts are indeed a rare occurrence in the music industry & does not lack of genuine & true musicianship. As such, I take it as a real rarity in today's music scene. It just shows how good their musicianship truly is. It should be noted that the album offers "Skulirani" atmosphere, without any offensive tensions. "Guilty of the Blues," says the album, which will be its content will satisfy all. As they say may distinguished music critics have something to lie on the first and this is not it. Personally, I still hold that it does not have to be exact. Maybe this album did not sit down at first listen, but with increased attention, after some time I was beginning to open now and then, from tract to track, as I heard sparks, flashes and strong positive vibrations. After all, listen t the next song and all will be clear: the title, "Guilty Of The Blues," "Hurry," "Shufflin Sue," "Living In A Smokescreen", "Brand New Shoes", "Walking In These Shoes" and "Love You Too Much". Lightnin Rod & The Thunderbolts on this album strongly target the population just like mine, there is simply no errors! So, if this album is too mature and predictable, it is because people like us know very well where their breeding ground is and it's just on albums like these. A must listen!”
Blues 4 U/ Sound Guardian Magazine (May 1, 2015)
Lightnin’ Rod and the Thunderbolts – Guilty of the Blues
Memphis Blues Records
CD: 13 Songs; 45:02 Minutes
Styles: Ensemble Blues, Mellow Blues, Blues Rock
What kind of “blues electricity” might one expect to be struck by, courtesy of Kentucky’s Lightnin’ Rod and the Thunderbolts? Blues fans might crave a “shock” of “high-voltage” electric guitar, made even more powerful by an amplifier’s “amps”. On their third release, they’re Guilty of the Blues. This CD will be a guilty pleasure on long road trips or quiet evenings. According to the band’s promotional information sheet, “Rod’s music has been called ‘Bob Seger meets Eric Clapton at Muddy Waters’ House.’ But, those who try to pigeon-hole his music will be left scratching their heads. Always a blues rocker at heart, his music also has shades of soul, Motown, gospel and acoustic influences.” He won both the Grindle Award and Gold Artist Award for his 2008 release, “After the Storm.”
Joining Lightnin’ Rod Wilson on vocals, guitars, six string banjo, and percussion are bassists Calvin Johnson, and Shannon Link; drummer/additional percussionist Roy Edmiston; Bob Hopps on keyboards and harmonica; Joe Kleykamp on saxophone and horn arrangements; trombonist John Pope; trumpet player John Francis; William McNeil on violin; and additional vocalists Tiffany Wilson Bays and Jennifer Adkinson Doser on harmony. The following three songs, out of twelve total originals, capture the easily-flowing essence of the Lightning Bolts most clearly:
Track 06: “Livin’ in a Smokescreen” – “They want the power; they’ve got the greed. Don’t care about nothing that the people need…Politicians lie; good people die in a smokescreen.” Swinging track six is a blues rocker exposing the political fog in which we currently stumble. “You own the press; you own the schools – but you don’t even know the Golden Rule,” Rod states of so-called “public servants”. His wah-wah guitar solo coupled with Shannon Link’s perky bassline is terrific.
Track 08: “Midwest Boy” – This is Lightnin’ Rod’s ode to his home region: “You can take the boy from the Midwest, but you can’t take it out of the boy. I mix Detroit-rocking Motown with Chicago, Illinois.” He drops names (Seger, Mitch Ryder, and Buddy Guy, to name a few), and plays decent acoustic guitar.
Track 12: “Rooster in the Hen House” – The Thunderbolts go all out in this highly-danceable instrumental, as Rod struts his stuff on six-string banjo. It’s not exactly rock, blues, or country, but right in the sweet spot between all three genres. Listen closely for the popular musical refrains from “Shortnin’ Bread” and “Dixie Land”.
The one flaw in this CD is that the Thunderbolts’ music might be too mellow for some – especially for those looking for hair-raising party tunes. However, peruse-ers in a more laid-back mood will surely find themselves Guilty of the Blues!
Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 35 year old female Blues fan. She brings the perspective of a younger blues fan to reviews. A child of 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.
Rainey Wetmight - Blues Blast Magazine (Feb 26, 2015)
Wilson has not been idle after releasing "After The Storm", but wrote more than thirty new songs. From this offer he has carefully selected thirteen songs for his third album "Guilty Of The Blues". Rod opens firmly with track one "Black Widow", in the background he is supported by the organ grooves of Bob Hopps and the horn section (Joe Kleykamp: sax, John Pope: trombone & John Francis: trumpet). The title song which follows "Guilty Of The Blues" is a Latino tinged song with a little more percussion by Roy Edmiston and the rhythm section (Shannon Link: bass & Roy Edmiston: drums). Track three "Best Days" mixes mandolin and percussion well for a very tight sound. Moving on to track five, because we're going to rock with "Shufflin Sue." Track six is also a rocker, "Living In a Smoke Screen", which Rod shows his frustrations in some sharp solos with amazing pedal work. Interstate 75 (abbreviated I-75) is the highway that Hialeah, a suburb of Miami, Florida, connects with Canada in the state of Michigan. I-75 crosses six states. This highway has something to do with blues, because in the middle class old fashioned rocker track seven "I-75 Highway Blues" shows that sing-a-longs with Rod on I-75 would be very entertaining. Is track eight "Midwest Boy" autobiographical? I think so ... In this wonderful bluesy song Rod makes us his blues story. With track nine "Brand New Shoes" lets Bob Hopps groove on the organ again. Is track ten “Rebel Blues” an ode to the English blues or maybe something else? ... With the violin of William McNeil track eleven “Walking In These Shoes” is the other latino tinted song. Lightnin Rod Wilson as we experience is always exciting and in in track twelve "Rooster In The Hen House he also affirms his skill on banjo and his instrumental cackle. We conclude with track thirteen "Love You Too Much", an entertaining blues rocker, which is full of emotional outpourings and matching solos.
"Lightnin '" Rod Wilson and his "Thunderbolts" with their new album "Guilty Of The Blues" clearly show that they have much in store for audiences. This is blues rock from Michigan, which certainly deserves our attention. Great rocking blues!
Eric Schuurmans - Rootstime (Feb 8, 2015)