Ten Foot Polecats CD Review - by J. Blake

Posted on 3/23/2010 by J. Blake

(New York, NY)

It is clear from Ten Foot Polecats’ bio that they take great pride in being more than your average blues band; calling themselves a “Punk Blues band” and boasting about how they are ”one of the few blues bands booked across the state in the rock, punk and psychobilly circuits”. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) their debut release on Hillgrass Bluesbilly Records, I GET BLAMED FOR EVERYTHING I DO, presents no evidence that these guys are playing anything other than good ol’ fashioned blues.

Sure they pick up the pace on a few tunes and guitarist Jim Chilson may, at times, be playing with a little more “fuzz” than your average blues player, but these middle-aged white guys from Massachusetts are no more “punk” than Robert Johnson or Howlin’ Wolf; and that is not necessarily a bad thing. Their sound may be a little more raucous than some blues fans are used to, but at the same time it is completely drenched in the style of the Mississippi delta.

As a guitar/vocal/drum trio, they boldly play sans bass and the fact that the instrument is not as missed as one would expect, is quite a testament to Chilson’s talents on guitar. A bass would definitely give their sound a little more depth, but Chilson’s finger picking-style, like that of the delta-masters, is full and rhythmically spot on. He is doing things with the guitar that not many electric bluesmen are pulling off these days….and things that punk players have never pulled off.

As for the rest of the band, despite Dave Darling being a technically proficient and solid drummer, he definitely takes a bit of a backseat to his band-mates. Like Chilson’s guitar playing, Jay Scheffler’s vocals successfully hark back to the blues of old. He attacks the material with the same kind of raspy whine as Howlin’ Wolf and though there’s a chance that Scheffler may be comparing himself to someone more like David Johansen, it is undeniable that this is the vocal-style that “The Wolf” introduced and mastered half a century ago. With that said, successfully pulling off that style and making it work in contemporary music, even if it is still just blues, is no small feat and Scheffler should be commended for it.

Ten Foot Polecats may not be doing anything all that new or progressive and their music may not be as “punk” as their bio claims, but there sound is one that has been tested and approved. They’re debut album is loud and fun, but also steeped in tradition. It is recommended for any fan that doesn’t mind their blues a little bit raunchy.

*If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy: Meantooth Grin CD Review

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