Ben Waters Whips Up a Boogie 'Hurricane'

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Tuesday's Pick

  • Song: "Hurricane"
  • Artist: Ben Waters
  • CD: Hurricane
  • Genre: Blues-Rock
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In "Hurricane," Ben Waters takes a piano style that dates to the early 1900s and adds modern influences. Chris Caswell hide caption

toggle caption Chris Caswell

British boogie-woogie wizard Ben Waters sets a breakneck pace in "Hurricane," the title track from his new, import-only CD. Waters took a few piano lessons as a teenager, but just imitated his teacher's hands instead of learning to read the notes. In the years since, he's nevertheless mastered the elements of the American piano style, with a driving left hand and witty trills and arpeggios and blue notes in the right. In the process, he creates music that lives up to the boogie-woogie mission statement: making listeners want to get up and dance, accompanied by lyrics that seem literally lifted from the daily newspaper: "When Wilma was the Hurricane / I was avoiding aeroplanes / While racial tension flares again / and now they're shooting all the hens."

Waters, who sings in a warm barroom style, is especially adept at taking a piano style that dates to the early 1900s and adding modern influences. "Hurricane" shows off some Beach Boys-style backing vocals and a blistering guitar solo. All it lacks is his cross-cultural flair, on display in a version of "Johnny B. Goode" that sounds as it might have been played by an Eastern European dance band.

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