Hoot 'N Holler
CD Review by Vancouver Roots music aficionado Serge Lotosky Steve Kozak and the West Coast Blues Revue Hoot 'N' Holler 2007 In a sea of endless white boy blues bands and tired old riffs, there is one cat who stands out from the crowd. Vancouver based Steve Kozak is that man. Harkening back to sound of the juke joint, traditonalist Kozak has been raisin' the roof with some smokin' vintage equipment all along the west coast for a long time. The long awaited follow up to his 2003 offering is fittingly called Hoot 'n' Holler, because that's what he seems to cause audiences to do. As opposed to mundane blues riffers who seem to make seemingly normal people do strange dances, The West Coast Blues Revue just grooves along and make people just wanna dig the show. That groove of the live shows has been captured and laid down on a CD with excellent production values laid down by local veteran, Jack Lavin, at the helm. (Why do Canadian CD's always sound so good?). Kozak, a bluesman's bluesman, has surrounded himself with a stellar array of blues veterans. There is some crazy piano pounding by Dave Webb that is reminiscent of Amos Milburn. The general feel of the album leans towards the jump blues of the late 40's and R&B of the early fifties, while Steve's playing has echoes of the tasty licks produced by T-Bone Walker. There is even a Jackie Brenston cover called Juiced. Backed by the hard drivin' rhythm of the meanest stand up bass player in the business (so mean he uses steel strings), Ken Wilson, this track is a real mean jumper. Like the R&B cats, Steve likes to sing about cars, chicks, and havin' a good time, evoking images of some cinder block shack by the side of the road. Steve and the boys always make the good times roll. It has been said that roots musicians should have lived what they play, which is the only way to make it convincing. Booze, bar fights, lost love; it's all in there somewhere. Track 8 is a case in point. Called 'Almost bought the farm' this is not a hackneyed blues cliché that is all too familiar these days. This is literal and autobiographical. Steve recently had contracted a life threatening medical condition and did indeed almost buy the farm. The line '17 days in the hospital ' is earnest and comes from actual experience, you believe the man. The resilient and always jovial Kozak thankfully pulled through and eventually got back to playing. A lot of the tracks on this album are a metaphor for Steve's recovery and joy of life, and that comes through clearly in the playing. A solid, hard driving offering this time round. Hoot 'N' Holler and get juiced and give a listen to Steve Kozak's brand of blues. Serge Lotosky Vancouver BC August 2008 ************************************************************ STEVE KOZAK'S WESTCOAST BLUES REVUE HOOT 'N HOLLER If gratitude had a sound it would be the sonic thread that swings through every track of this latest offering from Vancouver blues guitar institution Steve Kozak. Honest appreciation oozes out of every solo and lyric of 'Hoot 'N Holler', Steve's primarily self-penned album. Following his brush with mortality in early 2006, Steve and his family were witness to the generosity of the open-hearted Vancouver Blues community during an August 2006 benefit at The Yale. This outpouring of support and affection inspired him to transform his own personal blues into a hard-working, 13 song expression of gratitude. From the title track that springs to life with a 'just happy to still be here' feel, to Steve's tribute to wife Sue on 'Girl Of My Dreams', it's an infectious, hand-crafted swinging blues that makes you want more. Embracing his latest favorite saying "...there's no fun like the fun we're having now..." Steve's distinctive guitar style has a new lively lilt - just check his solo work on the instrumental 'Rollin' With Brother D'. But all this couldn't have happened without helping hands along the way. Recorded live off the floor in two days, thanks go out to a stable of great players and long-time musical friends noted here. Special thanks go to engineer/mixer Ken Burke of Burkeville Sound and long-time friend, co-writer and producer Jack Lavin who also took the time to sit in with Steve on their roots feel collaboration 'It Didn't Happen That Way' featuring Jack on the harp. This album is a musical story about hard work, survival and perseverance. And if there's such a thing as the blues with a happy ending Steve has captured it here for all of us to 'Hoot 'N Holler' about and be grateful for. Ronnie Bee July 2007 ************************************************************ Feb. 2008 The latest news about Steve Kozak's WestCoast Blues Revue and what folks are saying about the new CD Hoot 'N Holler: *The new CD Hoot 'N Holler hit the number one spot on the Top Ten Blues Albums for early December '07 on play list charts of CFBX 92.5 FM radio in Canada and is receiving critical acclaim in reviews from the media across North America and Europe. *Hoot 'N Holler is currently listed in the Top sellers of West Coast Blues and has been selected as a Top Editors Picks on CD Baby. *Dwain 'The Blues Doctor' Anderson host of Another Shade of Blues on CJSF 90.1 FM in Vancouver rates Hoot 'N Holler at #2 in his Top Ten Blues Albums of 2007 *Real Blues Magazine lists Hoot 'N Holler at #32 in their Top Blues CDs of 2007. *John Valenteyn from the Toronto Blues Society's Maple Blues Online says of the title track; "it's an infectious romp that brings Willie "Big Eyes" Smith to mind." And "...a well-written and arranged little delight it is." *Richard 'Rosy' Rosenblatt former CEO of Tone Cool Records and currently the president and CEO of the Vizz- tone label group and Tone Cool Productions says; "This is real, honest blues-party music! Tasty musicianship and solid tunes. It's great that there is so much original music on the disc. You don't have to re-invent the wheel, it's all how you spin it." *Jerry Hall top notch record producer and owner, president & CEO of The Pacific Blues Recording Company says; "Steve's new release comes after a long absence due to illness, 'Hoot 'n Holler' is a strong return to form featuring some of Western Canada's best players and 10 originals of the13 songs on the CD recorded live in-studio for a natural performance feel and produced by Jack Lavin, Steve has returned strong as ever." *The Blues Hound, producer/programmer of KPFT 90.1 FM in Houston Texas says; "Yeah that's the real deal stuff with extra grease." *Tom Harrison of The Vancouver Province calls it "Blues that can put a smile on your face." *Steve Kozak was recently featured in the winter 2007 issue of Vancouver Lifestyle Magazine as the subject of 'The People Worth Watching' section written by Vancouver music icon Lindsay Mitchell.