Monday, June 6, 2011

June 7th Marks the Day!!

June 7th, 2011 marks the official release of my new album "Lit Up!"  The WildRoots and I are very proud of this album, and hope that all of you enjoy it.  You can now go to to order a copy.  Here are just a few reviews we've already received from notable critics. 

Lit Up
* * * * *
Victor Wainwright and the WildRoots - Lit Up!
The phrase "highly anticipated" can carry some dangerous baggage with it; there's a huge potential for a letdown, and on the overall, precious few albums live up to the moniker. Thankfully, Lit Up from Victor Wainwright and the WildRoots not only meets those expectations but exceeds them.

The follow-up to Wainwright's critical success "Beale Street to The Bayou" builds on all the good juju from that release and actually manages to improve on every level. From any aspect you care to view this disc - songwriting, recording quality, and of course performance - this disc is an absolute winner. For starters, there's no chance a blues fan can get bored with this disc. Stylistically, Lit Up exhibits an understanding of a wide range of blues, from the flat out boogie of the album-opening "Big Dog's Runnin' This Town," straight through the heart of New Orleans with "Subliminal Criminal;" from a fine and comfortable Delta country feel with "Dixie Highway," through a superbly aching slow blues with "Our Last Goodbye;" for all of it, Wainwright and Company (Stephen Dees, Greg Gumpel, Patricia Ann Dees, Billy Dean and Ray Guiser) show themselves as consummate wizened pros. Folks... this is seriously good blues!

Oh, and don't be shy about adding "stellar production values" to the list of this album's merits. Producer/Arranger Stephen Dees exhibits superb judgment and taste with every flourish on the disc. Horns are added where they sound fantastic - never for mere effect, and as with all other aspects of the album, never gratuitously. Solos are appropriate, tasteful and skillful, adding to the solidarity of the feel throughout this album of a very, very good band playing together, never against one another. Adding a final perfect touch to the disc, Wainwright plays a proper acoustic piano on the album's entirety; he makes his love for and extreme skill on the instrument exceedingly obvious from start to finish.

Picking a favorite track on this release might be akin to choosing your favorite gem from a perfect necklace... but if my feet were held to the fire, I might go with "Walk Away My Blues." A medium-to-slow aching blues, it gives Wainwright a chance to shine in his two most accomplished arenas; his vocals (which never get enough credit in my book) are pleading and aching, and his piano playing on this track is a microcosm of the entire album; brilliantly presented, never flash for the sake of flash but in possession of every necessary chop in the book... and then some. The horns on this track again add so much to the presentation, lending something between a big band feel and the ambiance of a smokey back-room strip joint. The whole track just blows me away.

In fact, and I'm sure it's obvious by now, the whole album blows me away. Perhaps the simplest and most effective way I can say it is this... I've been living in Memphis for over three years now. I love the city, love the music and the musicians here and I do what I can to bathe myself in as much of our city's music as I can. To these ears, Lit Up is by far the finest recording I've heard from Memphis in my entire time here. Victor Wainwright and the WildRoots have done themselves, Memphis and all of the blues world very proud.
Silver Michaels

American Blues News 

(Memphis, Tennessee)  One of the most talented musicians to come onto the Blues scene in the past few years is Victor Wainwright.  His Lit Up CD does not disappoint if you like Blues and boogie-woogie piano matched to a big voice and well executed instrumentation.  There are 14 songs on this CD and there is not a bad song on the CD...period.  With so much mediocre music being released every year, it is delightfully refreshing to be able to wholeheartedly endorse a new CD.  this CD is just terrific... bluesy and cool, well-recorded performances by a host of excellent musicians and full of original songs.
This release is yet another collaboration with Victor's longtime partner Stephen Dees and it delivers a slew of well-written original songs full of interesting and entertaining lyrics along with some great performances from a bigger lineup of talented players.  Stephen also plays bass, acoustic guitar and some percussion on this record. Victor has added some good horn arrangements this time around and the effect is legit, foot-stomping Blues music. This is Victor Wainwright's 4th release and the Wildroots second official release.
Victor Wainwright and the Wild Roots come out of the chute with a rollicking jump Blues, "Big Dog's Running this Town." The CD never gets repetitive as Victor and the boys tour the listener through a vast array of Blues styles, from world class boogie woogie, to a Django-esque minor chord based "Weeds" replete with Victor's vocal which occasionally smacks of Louis Armstrong, then departing to "Little Ole Shack which hearkens back to Louis Jordan with it's group vocals and cool horn section. The title track, "Lit Up" adds some harmonica to the mix, Mark "Muddyharp" Hodgson providing the tracks.  This CD indeed expands the usual palette of musical flavors and it is a welcome addition to see Victor and company spread their wings. Also welcome is the addition of the author's "musical grandson", Chris Stephenson, on Hammond B-3 on Stephen Dees' Blues ballad "Our Last Goodbye."  This song also features some ripping electric guitar which sounds like the work of the most accomplished Greg Gumpel who also contributes some tasty resonator guitar to the CD on the tunes "Dixie Highway" and the all acoustic "Pile of Blues." Greg is Victor's best friend and has traveled many miles of road with the singing piano-playing bluesman.
The use of a great sounding Samick acoustic piano throughout the recording adds to the legitimacy of this recording's old school sound.  The recording is well organized and sophisticated and maintains good sonic values from beginning to end without ever coming off as too slick...this is straight-up Blues of the first order.  The record would be worth buying for just the jump Blues and boogie woogie alone, but it delivers the goods again and again with superb tips of the porkpie to many Blues styles.  This is an entertaining listen from top to bottom and rates 5 stars.  If you like the Blues, you should check out this musical offering and hear the future of the Blues for yourself. Victor and the Wildroots have captured the best of the old and infuse it with the energy of youth without sacrificing anything along the trip.
Not only is Victor an accomplished musician and one of the hardest working players that I have countenanced, but he is also a beautiful, kind, human being, sensitive and generous to a fault.  This comes out in his music as you can almost see Victor smiling while delivering lyrics and shouting in his trademarked style. Touring constantly and working in situations that require lots of hard travel has not diluted the impact of this man and his band.  Along his long road he has played with some of the finest players in the music business and even played loads of shows with the talented and extremely humorous Rev. Billy C. Wirtz, who contributed to the writing of  "Honky Tonk Heaven." Victor has a great career ahead of him.  He naturally possesses a unique delivery and does not have to imitate or copy anyone else. Moreover, he is always entertaining and madly talented.  You will never see Victor play a room and not go over with the crowd in a big way.
Do yourself a favor and buy a copy of this CD here:



One of the more pleasant surprises on the blues scene not too long ago was the debut release from Victor Wainwright and the Wildroots, entitled "Beale Street To The Bayou," with its infectious rhythms accentuated by the piano and vocal of Victor. He's back in full stride with his latest set, "Lit Up!," which features more of the strong songwriting and general good-time vibe of the debut. On this set, tho, Victor delves into some sweet, Delta-flavored acoustic numbers that make this one a spicy gumbo, indeed!

Victor again is joined by producer-bassist-co-writer Stephen Dees, and they make "Lit Up!" a shot of pure dynamite! The title cut uses a hot horn section to augment Victor's tale of bein' "Lit Up" in love! The rollicking leadoff cut lets you know right away that the "little dogs" need to step aside, cuz' the "Big Dog's Runnin' This Town!" "Subliminal Criminal" combines some cleverly-rhyming lyrics with a piano style reminiscent of Professor Longhair. "Dixie Highway' features a cool Resonator guitar lead from Greg Gumpel and harp from Mark Hodgson to spice up this tale of "giving thanks for making a living" playin' the blues. Victor then uses farm life as a metaphor for life in general, for "without hard work, nothin' grows but Weeds."

We had three favorites, too. Victor laments the fact that he has a "Coin Operated Woman" who not only took all his money, but who's now "tryin' to swipe some of these 88 keys!" On the jumpin' "Little Ole Shack up on the hill," you can find just about any vice you'd care for, from rollin' dice to a "cherry pie sittin' on a window sill!" And, Victor uses another acoustic setting to convey the sadly-humorous tale of a man who imbibed a bit too much, "tripped over the Twelve Steps, and stepped in a big Pile Of Blues!!"

Victor Wainwright and the Wildroots will make you smile, make you dance, and make you a convert to good, ole-fashioned piano-fied blues, and will get you "Lit Up!" in the process!!! Until next time....Sheryl and Don Crow

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