wildroots sessions volume 2
(5 star review)
The WildRoots follow their superb 2021 release Sessions Volume 1 with the sensibly and not surprisingly titled Sessions Volume 2. Many insanely talented musicians involved once again, including singer and band co-founder Victor Wainwright. A mixed bag of blues, roots rock, gospel and American roots music, these guys really have the goods.
Core members of The WildRoots include Victor Wainwright (keys, vocals) plus Stephen Dees (guitars. Bass, percussion, vocals) and Patricia Ann Dees (vocals, sax, piano, bass), with The Dees’ also producing once again. There are several band alumni and guests involved too, more than I can mention here. Having so many fingers in the pie could have been a problem, but for Volume 2 it just adds to the breadth and diversity of the material. The dominant vibe is definitely a joyful sort of blues, but there’s so much going on here why stick to one particular lane? What I said about Volume 1 last year applies to this new collection; “it’s one hell of a record, one of those discs that can really lift the darkness.” Late winter can be a problem for a lot of people, myself included, and this album makes getting up and at ‘er easier.
Musically speaking, Volume 2 is powerful medicine. While Victor is the main vocalist he is by no means the only one, with several others taking turns over the course of these 15 tracks. The 3 gals harmonizing on the vocals for That Mine Of Mine call to mind The McGuire Sisters with a bit of a Harlem twist, and Billy Livesay is featured on Working For My Car Blues, something many of us can relate to… it’ll take me another 3 & ½ years to finish paying for a car I shouldn’t have bought in the first place. C’est la vie.
The production on the new album is spot on, I love the way Volume 2 sounds. Like its predecessor this one is brimming with heart and soul, and as a listener it’s a real treat to just sit back and enjoy this master class in how it should be done. On most albums you can pick out a few tunes that catch your ear while you think of the rest as merely filler, but there isn’t a single track here that doesn’t lift you up and make you feel good. I have no doubt that Sessions Volume 2 will be judged one of the best albums of the year. This will be available in April but I’ll be sharing tracks here and there on my internet radio shows, so watch out.
HOT TRACKS: That Man Of Mine, I.O.U., I Feel Fine
- Music Reviews by the ROCK DOCTOR – March 2022
- By John Kereiff Features - Music Reviews & Get Off My Lawn!
Living Blues Magazine
Musical powerhouse, The WildRoots was born out of the longstanding friendship between piano ace Victor Wainwright and veteran bassist and session player Stephen Dees. Dees produced and co-wrote Wainwright’s 2005 debut solo album, “Piana’ from Savannah”. In 2009, the WildRoots, featuring Wainwright, Dees and Dees' wife, Patricia Ann released their debut. The bands latest effort comes hot on the heels of the critically acclaimed WildRoots Sessions Volume 1. Like it’s predecessor, the new release features the core WildRoots lineup of Wainwright, Stephen Dees and Patricia Ann Dees collaborating with a dizzying array of musicians. Once again, the WildRoots offer listeners a music festival packed into a single recording. A review can only hope to capture the high points.
Blues fans will find a lot to love in “WildRoots Sessions Volume 2”. Tongue-in-cheek lyrics and Anthony “Packrat” Thompson’s gravelly vocals liven up the downhome “Lazy Little Daisy”. Always happy to showcase new talent, the WildRoots let 22-year-old guitarist and vocalist Dyer Davis take the spotlight on “The Bad Seed”. Daytona Beach bluesman, Mark Hodgson, lends his weathered voice to the down and dirty “The Threads of Time”. Bryan Bassett’s stinging guitar leads and keyboard work from the late Lucky Peterson stir some hot sauce into the mix. Wainwrights no-holds-barred piano style is in full flower on the instrumental “WildRoot Boogie”, and Hodgson fans the flames with his deft harmonica work.
While the WildRoots are adept at performing traditional blues, the band shines brightest when it uses the blues as a foundation for a unique sound that’s equal parts grit and polish. Beautiful vocal harmonies from Patricia Ann Dees and Reba Russell anchor the passionate and spiritual “Long Way to Go”. Wainwright’s voice is filled with gospel fervor as he takes the lead on “Good Word”, and saxophonist Charlie DeChant serves as a perfect musical foil. Gospel singer Brianna Harris steps into the spotlight on the closing track “Ready When the Day is Done”. Harris’ soulful voice is accompanied by gorgeous harmonies from Wainwright, Stephen and Patricia Ann Dees.
Accessible and eminently airplay friendly, WildRoots Sessions Volume 2 should bring recognition and acclaim to the many musicians who lent their passion and talent.
- Jon Kleinman – Living Blues Magazine
RHYTHM & BOOZE
Hard to believe in this strange new world, that only a year back, I reviewed The WildRoots Vol. 1, and very good it was. With that success behind them, the core musicians, Victor Wainwright, Stephen and Patricia Ann Dees, have completed Volume 2, inviting many fellow artists to join them on the 15 tracks of this collection. Stephen Dees himself is a prolific songwriter, scribbling away solo, as well as with co-writers Patricia and Victor, plus with guest guitarist Bryan Bassett.
Like the Volume 1, there is much to enjoy in this terrific album, with blues, gospel, and a bit of bluegrass, thrown into the mix. It opens with Victor and Patricia signing an IOU, a song that settles you straight into the groove, as they exchange devotional IOU’s, before breaking into harp and sax solo’s. The rhythm slips away to a pedestrian pulse, for the wonderful, ‘Lazy Little Daisy’, with vocal lead from Anthony “Packrat” Thompson, Dees has fun with the lyrics on this delightful foot tapper, and Packrat brings the song to life.
A spare, gospel blues, with Patricia and Reba Russell on vocals, alongside Stephen Kampa on harp, slide guitar and tight percussion is all it takes for the, ‘Long Hard Road’, to open up, simply superb! Victor takes to the piano, to accompany the harmony trio Patricia, Reba and Beth McKee, in, ‘That Man Of Mine’, it shouts of the 50’sand, has a lovely swing to the rhythm.
An engine coughs into life,rhythm swings in, and Billy Livesay, tells sings out he’s, ‘Working For His Car’, we’ve all been there back in the day. It motors on, lubricated by a slick guitar lead from Pat Harrington, with an open road ahead. A quick steppin’ jazz edged instrumental announces the, ‘WildRoot Boogie’, the boogie man is Victor,tickling those ivory’s with the double Dee’s adding sax and guitar. Mark Hodgson blows harp, before Billy Dean lets rip on a rolling drum solo, if your gonna boogie, make it the signature track.
Kampa’s harmonica wails, Robert picks out the guitar notes and steps into a big,‘Pile Of Blues’, its one of those days, and Top is in the doldrums. Best switch the tempo up a bit, Charlie DeChant delivers a breezy tenor sax solo, as Wainwright sings out the gospel calling of the, ’Good Word’. This is the church of the WildRoots, sheltering from life’s storms, Patricia continues the good work in, ‘I Say Amen’, as we head in to the closing song, the beautiful, gospel call of ‘Ready When The Day Is Done’. Brianna Harris leads the chorusing congregation on the banks of the river, Stephen Dees has written a truly gorgeous traditional Southern hymnal which will stay with you through the day.
WildRoots Sessions Volume 2 proves as delightful a collection of songs as the previous edition. The gathering of like minded musicians, are drawn to the magnetic nucleus of the Dee’s and Wainwright. 15 songs wrapped up in tightly entwined roots, producing a distinctive, tasty gumbo of foot stomping, swinging, rhythms and blues. As Victor calls it, “have you heard; have you heard, the Good Word”, amen to that,its not difficult to feel the calling to this rich tapestry of music.
- Rhythm & Booze - Graham Munn
Bman's Blues Report
I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, WildRoots Sessions Volume 2, from The WildRoots and it's a lot of fun. Opening with the bluesy I.O.U., Patricia Ann Dees and Victor Wainwright on lead vocal, we got a swampy New Orleans style funk, charged by Eddie Zyne on drums and Stephen Dees on bass. With a perfect harmonica vamp by Stephen Kampa and including Charlie DeChant on sax, Todd Sharp on guitar, David Kent on keys and Alberto Cruz on congas, this is a solid opener.
Reba Russell and Patricia Ann Dees harmonize nicely on lead vocal on Long Way To Go over a cool, acoustic slide guitar by Greg Gumpel, Stephen Dees on bass and percussion and real nice harmonica riffs by Kampa. Very nice.
The shuffle track, The Bad Seed really rocks with Bryan Bassett on lead guitar and Dyer Davis on second lead and lead vocal. backed by Lucky Peterson on Hammond, S Dees on bass, Top Thomas on rhythm and Scott Corwin on drums, this is one of my favorites on the release.
Bryan Bassett steps up on lead guitar on The Threads of Time, a slower paced blues featuring Mark Hodgson on lead vocals. Peterson's piano and organ work on this track create a real tension and fat bass by Dees and Scott Corwin really anchor this piece giving Bassett an open floor for dynamic guitar soloing. Very nice.
Another of my favorite tracks on the release is WildRoot Boogie with a driving bass line by Dees and terrific piano work by Wainwright. Anchored by Billy Dean on drums and with Hodgson on harmonica and Patricia Ann Dees on sax. This track is hot.
The Bluesy ballad, I Say Amen, gives Patricia Ann Dees the mic and it's a real nice showcase for her vocals. The basic composition has a lot of the feel of an early Steve Winwood ballad and with S Dees on acoustic guitar and bass, Walt Andrews on dobro, Alberto Cruz on congas and Juan Perez, a really nice track.
Closing the release is another more acoustic piece, Ready When The Day Is Done, with Brianna Harris on lead vocal, surrounded by Stephen, Patricia Ann, Beth McKee, Wainwright, and Nick Black on warm, gospel like backing vocals over light accompaniment by Stephen on guitar, Perez on percussion, Joshua Harris on acoustic guitar and Kampa on harmonica. Excellent closer.
- BMans Blues Report
La hora del blues
This album follows the traces of the one released in 2021 with the title of “WildRoots Sessions Volume 1”, where piano player Victor Wainwright and guitar and bass player Stephen Dees wanted to celebrate their fruitful years of mutual collaboration that started in 2005, forming a band they named The WildRoots. Victor and Stephen thought they should record an album that included all the musicians and singers who in the past had collaborated with them and they did it in that first recording.
In this second volume both musicians plus Patricia Ann Dees, follow the same line than the first one, gathering a wide variety of musicians, influences and styles. Among the singers who collaborate with them you will find Reba Russell, Beth McKee, Anthony “Packrat” Thompson, Robert “Top” Thomas, Billy Livesay, Mark Hodgson and they also introduce two new vocalists, Dyer Davis and Brianna Harris.
Besides this great cast of voices, they have counted with an impressive roster of musicians and guests who, with their huge quality as instrumentalists, make this album become a really impressive work, giving a special color to each of the fifteen songs, in addition of a huge stylistic variety, a remarkable performing strength and passion, developed with an excellent technique. The album conception allow us to get a wide vision of both traditional and contemporary blues, as well as roots rock, gospel and even Americana music. I can tell you that, like the first volume, this second one will delight most lovers of these musical styles, not only for the undeniable quality of the chosen repertoire but also for the amazing musicians who perform it.
- La hora del blues Review (Translated from Spanish)
As good as the first set of this back porch music was, this second set is even better. Maybe for the third volume, they’ll invite the Crowmatix to drop by and create a modern version of “Will the Circle be Unbroken” for the original’s 51st anni. A utterly smoking roots kaleidoscope of all the kinds of roots music you could want by all the various roots players you could name, this set simply burns the back porch down. The only people having more fun listening to this are the cats laying it down so righteously. Killer stuff.
- Chris Spector
Blues Blast Magazine
A decade before Victor Wainwright and his group, The WildRoots, took home Blues Music Awards in 2016 as band and entertainer of the year, they were delivering some of the hottest blues on the scene of their home base in Central Florida. They celebrated their lengthy partnership last year with a stellar, star-studded retrospective and follow it with this collection which carries it forward without dropping a beat.
Co-founded by Grammy nominee Wainwright and the award-winning production team of Stephen and Patricia Ann Dees – he’s the former bassist for Hall & Oates, Pat Travers and Todd Rundgren and she’s a multi-instrumentalist vocalist who plays sax, keys, harmonica and bass, they came together in 2005 when Stephen was producing Victor’s debut solo release, Piana from Savannah. Their lineup always featured a moveable feast of top talent that included guitarist/vocalist Robert “Top” Thomas, guitarist Greg Gumpel, sax player Charlie DeChant, harp player Stephen Kampa and percussionists Billy Dean and Alberto Cruz, all of whom are present here.
And they proved to be such a favorite that national touring acts frequently joined them on stage, too – something that’s evident in the grooves of this set, which includes appearances from Reba Russell, Lucky Peterson, Pat Harrington, Nick Black, Billy Livesay (Clarence Clemons/The Livesays), Anthony “Packrat” Thompson (Packrat’s Smokehouse) and 14 other guests, including Mark Hodgson (Midnight Creepers), Beth McKee (Evangeline), Todd Sharp (Delbert McClinton) and 21-year-old gospel sensation Brianna Harris, too.
Unlike volume one, which contained multiple well-executed covers along with originals, all of the 15 songs in this set – a mixed bag of contemporary and traditional blues, gospel and roots -- are penned by Dees either alone or in partnership with Patricia Ann, Victor and Bryan Bassett, who adds lead guitar on three tracks.
Wainwright and Patricia Ann share vocals on the opener, “I.O.U.,” an unhurried shuffle that preaches the need to celebrate with interest the love you share with a significant other. Packrat’s warm, Southern-tinged baritone takes command in “Lazy Little Daisy,” a humorous description of a woman who does little more than snack and nap, before Reba and Patricia Ann team to deliver the acoustic blues pleaser, “Long Way to Go.”
The WildRoots turn mic and lead guitar duties over to 22-year-old Dyer Davis, front man of the band Rubber Soul Child, for “The Bad Seed,” an uptempo, contemporary blues before Wainwright takes command for “I Feel Fine,” a soulful, unhurried and lushly arranged ballad that looks forward optimistically to better times ahead.
Next up, the sound hints at the ‘50s and the Andrews Sisters as Victor tinkles the keys with only rhythm-section accompaniment as McKee teams with Reba and Patricia Ann to deliver “That Man of Mine.” The feel doesn’t last long, however, because “The Threads of Time,” which follows, is a rocker delivered by Hodgson and propelled by Bassett’s guitar before Patricia Ann’s in charge for “Sweet Louise,” a rootsy request that the beloved sister of the title return after far too long an absence.
The sounds of an engine turning over open the rocker “Working for My Car Blues,” which features Livesay at the mic, before Wainwright takes command as only he can with Hodgson on harmonica for the barrelhouse instrumental, “WildRoot Boogie.” The feel shifts dramatically with “Put Your Hand in the Fire” as the Dees partner for a little acoustic hokum then yield to Top for “Pile of Blues,” another acoustic pleaser that bemoans ambitions going down the drain.
The band takes listeners to church to close the disc beginning with Victor delivering the rousing, horn-fueled “Good Word” before Patricia Ann goes acoustic for the unrushed “I Say Amen” and Brianna shines on the powerful closer, “Ready When the Day Is Done.”
The WildRoots hit a home run with their first collection and go yard with this one, too. This one’s available online, but do the band a favor and order it from the band’s website (address above).
- Blues Blast Magazine - Marty Gunther
Keyslinger Victor Wainwright and bassist Stephen Dees celebrated their 16-year partnership, their WildRoots Records label, which they both co-founded in 2005 with Patricia Ann Dees, released the album "WildRoots Sessions Vol 1" last year. A strong album that screamed for a sequel, and it happened on March 1st with the launch of "Sessions Vol.2". Based in Memphis TN. you get a mix of blues, soul, gospel and rock 'n roll.
In addition to the vocal mastery of Patricia Ann Dees, you will also hear the voices of Reba Russell, Dyer Davis and 21-year-old gospel singer Brianna Harris. The 15 track album opens strongly with a duet by Victor Wainwright and Patricia Ann Dees on "I.O.U" On the Delta low blues, the same Patricia Ann Dees performs a duet with Reba Russell, a voice we still love. On "The Bad Seed", a blues shuffle, we get to hear Dyer Davis, both on guitar and vocals. "That Man Of Mine" kicks off three jazzy voices, those of Patricia Ann Dees, Reba Russell and Beth McKee, wow...as if we were back at "The Andrew Sisters".
"WildRoot Boogie" and it cannot be otherwise than Victor Wainwright can show his skills on the black & white keys of this instrumental catchy boogie song. Short and intense is the folk/bluegrass intermezzo on "Put You Hand in the Fire". Then rockin' gospel with "Good Word", and that's how you feel with this song that the end (of the album) is near. An ending defined by gospel with first Patricia Ann Dees on "I Say Amen" and finally "Ready When The Day is Done" with the wonderful gospel voice of 21-year-old Brianna Harris, shivers 'n' shake while we say AMEN .
(Translated from Dutch)
On the strength of the recognition granted to the first volume of the "WildRoots Sessions" in 2021, the trio of Victor Wainwright, Stephen Dees and Patricia Ann Dees who were at the origin of the project put their group back on track and perpetuate the exercise once again. The WildRoots, in which they themselves hold the microphone but also a number of instruments. Joining them are nearly thirty guests, and not the least, who will come to bring their singing or their notes of piano, guitar, organ but also bass to about fifteen compositions. Artists like Mark Hodgson, Dyer Davis, Pat Harrington, Reba Russell, Todd Sharp, Chris Stephenson or even the late Lucky Peterson add their personal touch to the blues, rhythm'n'blues, soul or even jazz. Building on the great diversity of colors given to their songs, The WildRoots never hesitate to deviate from the side of rag, country, gospel, folk, rock or boogie woogie and shine at every moment in their own way. On titles as changing as "Lazy Little Daisy", "The Bad Seed", "The Threads Of Time", "Sweet Louise", "WildRoot Boogie", "Pile Of Blues" or "Ready When The Day Is Done" who draw a veritable map of American music, black of course, but also white. We salute the very great lucidity of the founding trio of the group who knew how to combine not only art but also the way to unearth musicians of very great talent to finish making these "WildRoots Sessions Volume 2" an album that we enjoy listening to at any time of the day. To try it is for sure to adopt it!
- Written by Fred Delforge - ZicaZine France,
(Translated from French)
Sounds of the South
The second coup by The WildRoots has again become a major project. Almost thirty musicians were involved in the current sessions. The core of the WildRoots are Stephen and Patricia Ann Dees and Victor Wainwright. The fifteen songs are all by Stephen Dees, some of which he co-wrote with another WildRoots or with Bryan Bassett. He also produced and arranged the album, assisted by his wife Patricia Ann.
The couple sings "Put Your Hand In The Fire" together. Otherwise, the mastermind of the WildRoots likes to leave the microphone to other singers. The other two WildRoots have more vocal parts, such as Patricia Ann Dees on "Sweet Louise" and Victor Wainwright on "I Feel Fine". The opener "IOU" on which they appear as a duet is very successful.
The alternating lead vocals are a trademark of the band. The WildRoots offer old-school blues and blues-rock, often presented with harmonica and the occasional saxophone. Especially with the slower, bluesy numbers like "The Threads Of Time" or "Pile Of Blues" guest singers - here Mark Hodgson and Robert Thomas - take over the microphone. Vocally most notable is Anthony Thompson's contribution on "Lazy Little Daisy". The WildRoots count on proven colleagues who were already part of the " Sessions Volume 1
Among the titles, those stand out that cannot deny a gospel influence. "Long Way To Go", "Good Word" or "Ready When The Day Is Done" are among my favorites from the long player. "That Man Of Mine", which Patricia Ann Dees sings together with Beth McKee and Reba Russell, develops a nice retro charm. Victor Wainwright provides the dominant piano accompaniment here. On the instrumental “WildRoot Boogie” he proves that he is agile on the keys. His organ also drives the "Working On My Car Blues" sung by Billy Livesay. “The Bad Seed” with Dyer Davis also goes at a high tempo.
The fifteen tracks on "WildRoots Sessions Volume 2" come together on a long player on which blues and blues rock are represented in a traditional but varied way. Due to the changing lead vocals and the large number of guest singers, the disc seems more like a compilation than a closed band album. However, the CD can run through in this way, since hardly a piece falls off. For me, the highlights are the titles that are based on gospel.
- Michael Segets Sounds of South
The WildRoots , a collaboration between Victor Wainwright, Stephen Dees and Patricia Ann Dees , was born out of a shared love for blues, roots, gospel, soul and a little rock here and there.
Since first meeting in 2004 at a benefit concert in Ormond Beach, Florida, they have linked up with Wainwright's solo debut (produced and co-written by Dees) as the first result. The positive experience they gained in the studio and later at concerts was reason enough to intensify the collaboration, not as a solo project of Wainwright but as an equal band. Because WildRoots is a nice description of the musical style that the three promote, the name was quickly found.
Since 'Beale Street To The Bayou' was released in 2009 until ' WildRoots Sessions Volume 1 ' which was released last year, not many records have been made but quality over quantity in this case because they are all more than successful.
That also applies to the latest release, 'Sessions Vol.2' , which again suffices with a mix of the aforementioned styles, with the change compared to Volume 1 that we only get our own compositions presented here. That is by no means a punishment, because there is no miss on this record. Fans of bands like Racky Thomas and the Travelin' Medicine Show Revival Band and New Moon Jelly Roll Freedom Rockers won't be disappointed.
- Netherlands (translated from Dutch)
WildRoots Records was founded in 2005 by Stephen Dees, Victor Wainwright and Patricia Ann Dees. The label focuses primarily on blues, roots, folk and Americana artists and is committed to creating music that is both diverse and soulful. The first album to be released on WildRoots Records was Victor Wainwright's 'Piana From Savannah'. In 2009 The WildRoots released their debut album 'Beale Street To The Bayou'. Two years later, the follow-up was 'Lit Up!' finished. In 2015 they collaborated with Blind Pig Records for the album 'Boom Town', also their most successful album to date.
Sixteen years after the founding of WildRoots Records, the excellent 'WildRoots Sessions Volume 1' was released, a collection of sixteen songs that range from blues, over roots and rhythm & blues to soul. It ranges from happy romps on the piano to back porch blues to rock and roll. There is something for everyone on 'WildRoots Sessions Volume 1'.
Now a year later we get the sequel with 'WildRoots Sessions Volume 2'. This time there are fifteen songs on the album and they make for an excellent sequel to 'Sessions Vol. 1'. The WildRoots open the album with the bluesy duet 'I.O.U.', a song in which Victor Wainwright and Patricia Ann Dees talk about the need to celebrate love. Stephen Kampa seasons the entire song with excellent riffs on the harmonica and Charlie DeChant lashes out with a handsome sax solo. Instrumentally, you can also enjoy Todd Sharp's guitar work and David Kent's keyboard work.
We get a lot of different voices behind the microphone on this album. Anthony 'Packrat' Thompson certainly has one of the most striking voices when he provides a humorous description of a woman in 'Lazy Little Daisy', a woman who does little more than sleep and watch TV. The handsome slide work on the guitar is by Robert Thomas and Stephen Kampa shines once again on the harmonica. 'Long Way To Go' is the second duet on the album. It is one between the women Reba Russell and Patricia Ann Dees. Stephen Kampa with his wailing harmonica and Greg Gumpel on the acoustic slide guitar provide the instrumental pleasure.
Twenty-two-year-old Dyer Davis, front-man of Rubber Soul Child' takes over the microphone in the swinging Chicago blues 'The Bad Seed'. Bryan Bassett eagerly scatters the entire song with spicy guitar riffs and Lucky Peterson carries the melody with his warm Hammond sounds. An optimistic Victor Wainwright looks forward with hope in the bluesy ballad 'I Feel Fine'. In this slower song Stephen Kampa and his harmonica and the beautiful guitar work of Bryan Bassett have a leading role again.
In the retro, piano-driven 'That Man Of Mine', Patricia Ann Dees, Reba Russell and Beth McKee sing about their husbands. Apart from the beautiful finger work of Victor Wainwright on the piano, we only hear the drums of Juan Perez and the bass line of Wayne Russell.
The melodic blues ballad 'The Threads Of Time' is sung by Mark Hodgson. Lucky Peterson is behind the piano this time and with the guitarist Bryan Bassett, soulful and catchy guitar work is assured.
In the sweet piano and harmonica driven ballad 'Sweet Louise', Patricia Ann Dees begs Louise to return home after all. Pianist Victor Wainwright and harmonica player Stephen Kampa give the song an extra touch with clever solo work. The flowing blues rocker 'Working For My Car Blues' is started with a starting car engine. Billy Livesay sings 'Working For My Car Blues' and the feisty guitar solo is by Pat Harrington.
'WildRoot Boogie' is a swinging, instrumental boogie with harmonica player Mark Hodgson, pianist Victor Wainwright and bassist Stephen Dees in a starring role. Stephen Dees and Patricia Ann Dees take care of the vocals in the short, less than a minute long, western country song 'Put Your Hand In The Fire'. Guest guitarist Greg Gumpel is very decisive for the sound of 'Put Your Hand In The Fire' with his mandolin.
It gets very bluesy with 'Pile Of Blues' sung by Robert Thomas. The wonderful slide sounds on the guitar are also made by him. Stephen Kampa is once again expressive and excellently present on the harmonica throughout the song. We get modern swinging gospel in 'Good Word'. Victor Wainwright sings the song with great enthusiasm and Charlie DeChant blows the necessary soul on saxophone in this very danceable song.
After this exuberant and upbeat song it is subdued with the acoustic 'I Say Amen'. Patricia Ann Dees puts a lot of feeling and emotion in her voice and Walter Andrews is the man on the acoustic dobro slide guitar.
Twenty-one-year-old singer Brianna Harris leaves her mark on the closing gospel song 'Ready When The Day Is Done'. The beautiful backing vocals of Beth McKee and Nick Black with Patricia, Victor and Stephen complete the vocal part. 'The WildRoots Sessions Vol.2' is a more than excellent successor to the wonderful 'The WildRoots Sessions Vol.1'. Fifteen varied and strong songs make this album accessible to a very wide audience. The long list of excellent musicians also has a positive effect on the album.
- Concert Monkey Review (Translated from Dutch)
Blues Bytes Whats New
(Review of Volume 1 & 2)
WildRoots Sessions Vol. 1
Victor Wainwright, Stephen Dees, and Patricia Ann Dees began their musical collaboration back in 2005, and released several albums as The WildRoots, along with the Dees backing Wainwright on several of his albums. Last year, the trio released WildRoots Sessions, Volume 1 and recently issued Volume 2 (WildRoots Records, LLC), both of which team the trio with a huge supporting cast of past and current collaborators. A blues and roots supergroup, if you will. Volume 1 features 16 tracks, 14 originals, and Volume 2 features 15 originals, a deep and wide selection of blues, roots, gospel, and soul music.
There are nearly 30 guest artists on Volume 1, way too many to list here, but the songs are uniformly fine, touching on a variety of styles and there are some standout vocals. Wainwright sings on several of the selections, including the two covers, “634-5789” (with Patricia Ann Dees) and Leiber and Stoller’s “Santa Claus Is Back In Town.” He also teams with Beth McKee on “Cradled In The Bosom Of Jerusalem” and the jaunty closer “I’m Yours.”
Mrs. Dees sings on the funky “Move Along Part 1,” and a pair of acoustic numbers, “Easy Chair” and “Bend In The Road.” Other vocalists include John Oates with a soulful “Our Last Goodbye,” Nick Black on the swinging “Memphis Queen,” and Mark Hodgson, who also plays harp on the wistful “Misty Morning in New Orleans.” Volume 1 is a quality set from start to finish, with well-crafted tunes, excellent musicianship and great performances.
WildRoots Sessions Volume 2 offers more of the same with most of the same performers, including Anthony “Packrat” Thompson, who turns in a gritty, swampy vocal on “Lazy Little Daisy.” Reba Russell guests with Patricia Ann Dees on the acoustic blues “Long Way To Go,” and Mr. and Mrs. Dees team up for another acoustic track, the spicy “Put Your Hand In The Fire,” while Mrs. Dees, Russell, and McKee go old school with “That Man of Mine.” Robert “Top” Thomas ably handles another acoustic blues, “Pile of Blues,” and Wainwright shines on several tunes, including the ballad “I Feel Fine,” the horn-driven “Good Word,” and the hard-charging instrumental “WildRoot Boogie.”
Several tracks rock pretty hard, such as “The Bad Seed” (with vocal and guitar from Dyer Davis), “The Threads of Time” (with Hodgson on vocal and Bryan Bassett on guitar), and “Working for My Car Blues” (with Billy Livesay on vocals). As with Volume 1, there’s a wide variety of styles present and the original songs (written or co-written by Stephen Dees) are uniformly superb.
WildRoots Sessions, Volumes 1 and 2 offer nearly two hours of fantastic blues and roots music and should satisfy even the most persnickety blues fans.
- Graham Clarke
wildroots sessions volume 1
(5 star review)
Victor Wainwright and Stephen Dees celebrate their 16 year musical partnership with one hell of an album. Following 2015’s critically acclaimed and award winning Boom Town, Sessions is a smooth, sweet, soulful blend of blues, soul and roots rock & roll. If, by chance you’re feeling down, you won’t be after this record is done with you.
In a recent reply on Facebook to a friend (a fellow drummer) from my school days about how “being a musician means being a part of a total experience” I said “it’s the communion between people working toward a common goal that makes playing so exhilarating”, and I’d bet the farm that the players on this disc feel that way too. For this kick at the cat Victor and Stephen felt it was time to spotlight some of the talented people who have been a part of their past and present collaborations, and the results are stunning. In addition to Wainwright, Sessions Vol.1 also includes a number of special guests plus lead vocals by John Oates, Beth McKee, Nick Black, Stephen Dees, Patricia Ann Dees, Anthony “Packrat” Thompson, Robert “Top” Thomas, Billy Livesay, Mark Hodgson and Chris Merrell.
Wildroots Sessions Volume 1 is a rollicking, swingin’ musical adventure that takes you back home, wherever that may be for you, and it makes you feel cool while you listen. The disc was produced by Stephen Dees with just the right depth and interplay between voices and instruments, what feels like a natural and unforced relationship.. There are 16 songs in all, including covers of 634-5789 and Santa Claus Is Back In Town. The mixture of styles within the blues/soul/roots idiom is really something. Wildroots even touch on gospel with Cradled In The Bosom of Jerusalem. Sometimes when you hear a new album you think “Jeez, this is pretty good” and then you move on to the next thing- an occupational hazard for someone who reviews albums. But every now and again a pile of songs will come along that just stops me in my tracks, and that’s what The Wildroots Sessions Vol.1 is for me. It’s one of those discs that can really lift the darkness.
KEY CUTS: Easy Chair, 634-5789, Cradled In The Bosom Of Jerusalem
- Music Reviews by the ROCK DOCTOR – Feb 17th, 2021
- By John Kereiff Features - Music Reviews & Get Off My Lawn!
This eclectic collection of songs and artists celebrates the long musical collaboration of Victor Wainwright and Stephen Dees, and the many artists who’ve been a part of their past and present collaborations. Core members of the WildRoots include Wainwright and Dees and Patricia Ann Dees, and they’re joined here by guest musicians ranging from drummer Michael Shrieve and guitarist Bryan Bassett to guitarist and vocalist John Oates and vocalist Beth McKee. The result, of course, is a rollicking, downright fun, album of soul, rock, and blues.
The album kicks off with an incredibly smooth and moving version of Wilson Pickett’s 634-5789; in many ways, Wainwright and Patricia Ann Dees’ vocals capture the sultry appeal of the song better than Pickett’s. Something in the Water 2020 rides along a funky shuffling groove, while the jazz blues scorcher Our Last Goodbye features John Oates’ soulful vocals. The WildRoots turn the old chestnut Santa Claus Is Back in Town into a swinging jazz joint smoker, while Patricia Ann Dees delivers a smoldering, languorous lounge take on Easy Chair. Saxes swing Memphis Queen into a striding blend of jazz and rock with sonic phrasing from Phil Phillips’ Sea of Love, and Beth McKee lends her soaring pipes to the gospel Cradled in the Bosom of Jerusalem. Robert “Top” Thomas wails the Delta blues on King Snake Crawl Revisited, while Patricia Ann Dees delivers sweet soul on the spare ballad Bend in the Road.
WildRoots Sessions, Volume 1 showcases the breadth and depth of the WildRoots’ musical diversity, and the exuberant, entertaining songs on the album create in us the anticipation of a second volume of these sessions.
- Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Living Blues
Sound Waves Magazine
This review is another one of those rare moments that I get to experience sheer greatness unfold before my ears. The album includes some very special extended members of their musical clan such as lead vocals by John Oates (Hall & Oates), Stephen and Patricia Ann Dees, Nick Black, Anthony “Packrat” Thompson, Robert “Top” Thomas (Smoke House), Beth McKee, Billy Livesay (Clarence Clemmons, The Livesays), Mark Hodgson (Midnight Creepers), and Chris Merrell (Dicky Betts). The Core band members consists of, Stephen - Guitars, Bass, Percussion, Vocals, Production, Victor - Piano, Organ, Vocals, Patricia Ann - Saxophone, Vocals, Flute, Bass, are joined by WildRoots alumni Billy Dean - Drums, Charlie DeChant – Saxophone, Greg Gumpel - Guitar, Stephen Kampa - Harmonica, Ray Guiser - Sax, Nick Black - Guitar, Vocals, Alberto Cruz- Drums.
Guest musicians of note include Michael Shrieve (Rolling Stone Magazine The Best Drummers of All Time: #10, Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame with Santana), Bryan Bassett- Guitar (Foghat, Wild Cherry), Lucky Peterson Hammond Organ, Pat Harrington Guitar (The Train).
This 16 track album truly transcends all forms of blues. If you are looking for a fast paced meat & potatoes, hard driving blues album, this aint it!! The excellent compilation of seasoned musicians does a great job of serving their take of gourmet blues on a silver platter for listeners to enjoy. It’s the kind of album that you need to listen to several times to truly appreciate all its faceted nuances.
Moving through the different tracks it opens with the band performing a new take on Wilson Pickets’ classic soul song “634-5789”. Followed by gospel themed songs “Somethings In The Water” and “Cradled In The Bosom Of Jerusalem”.
I myself was drawn to “Move Along part 1 &2” with its fantastic horn arrangements. On the track “Our Last Goodbye” it features vocalist, legendary John Oates. You would swear that Hall & Oates got back together. Moving on to “Santa Claus Is Back In Town”, if you think that Victor Wainwright wanted to include a song for the little kiddies - think again!! This rendition is pure, down & dirty blues with a raspy, growling sax giving the song a slow, sensuous feel. If Jazzy Blues is your thing “Easy Chair” & “Square” definitely fits the bill. “King Snake Crawl” takes you back to the raw, gritty blues of Blind Lemon Jefferson, John Lee Hooker, and Charley Patton. If you close your eyes you would swear you’re in a 1930’s road house blues joint as you belly up to the bar to get a taste of the local moonshine. Great rendition, loved it. “Misty Morning In New Orleans” and “Where I Am” (another one of my favs) are two very different Blues styles but both pick up the pace and get you swinging and swaying. The final track on this great CD is a love ballad; “I’m Yours” featuring Wainwright on vocals and DeChant on sax. Wainwright’s heartfelt vocals brings back hints of the late, great Joe Cocker to mind. Truly an excellent interpretation along with DeChants sultry sax playing.
In closing I have to say that this body of work is in a class of its own and I thank our publisher David Pottie for asking me to review it. Suggestion to my readers; to truly enjoy an intricate body of work like this I suggest you listening to it through a good pair of studio quality headphones. An investment of about $150.00 will bring you years of listening pleasure, and don’t forget to add the side of bourbon and a cigar... Wildroots Sessions Volume 1 available on Amazon and a bargain at twice the price.
Until next time
- Adrian Webb, Sound Waves Magazine (New England)
Blues Corner SoundGuardian
"To be able to follow everything that is heard from the album “The WildRoots Sessions Volume 1” by the great band The WildRoots, you have to remember some facts from the history of modern music. You don’t need encyclopedias or Wikipedia, it’s enough to just be interested in what was going on in the music there from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s. I was stunned with over 67 minutes of absolute musical enjoyment. Victor Wainwright and Stephen Dees began their musical collaboration back in 2005, when Dees produced and co-wrote Wainwright's debut solo album "Piana 'From Savannah". It all turned out to be a great move and the duo soon formed the band WildRoots, led by Wainwright. They released several albums and then released “Boom Town,” which won the Blues Blast Magazine Award for Modern Blues Album of the Year, while the collateral results were winning a BMA: Victor himself in the “BB King Entertainer of the Year” category, and Wainwright & the WildRoots won the BMA in the "Band of the Year" category. It was, of course, a very large and strong springboard for further professional development. Wainwright and Dees have since launched their own record label called WildRoots Records.
The new studio album is actually a celebration of their 16-year collaboration. It’s very interesting that you might expect things to just keep going, but in fact the whole story goes in a direction that certainly gives their musical surge an entirely new dimension. Along with Wainwright, Dees and Patricia Ann Dees (who stick to the band's nucleus), the album features eight former former WildRoots members, including eight lead vocalists and seven guest musicians worth mentioning: Billy Livesay, Beth McKee, Anthony's "Packrat" Thompson, John Oates and the great saxophonists Ray Guiser and Charlie DeChant. There’s also Pat Harrington (from Wainwright’s band, The Train), sadly the late Lucky Peterson and Michael Shrieve. All together they offer us true musical madness in terms of an incredibly diverse musical offering. They offer us various styles of soul, blues, gospel and roots rock 'n' roll. All in all, the music offering is actually for everyone, for everyone’s musical taste. In addition, a great recording is highlighted, a great soundtrack, which draws you to listen and be focused on a great jam. Personally, I will definitely do my best to present this band and their album to as many people who love blues as possible and who like musicians like this. You and such musicians really wholeheartedly and uncompromisingly perform their vision and perception of the blues. It can be seen on this album that it is precisely this perception that more than well influences the complete musical expression of extremely well-gathered people and this synergy is very tangible. Victor Wainwright and the Wildroots come to us from Memphis, so it’s no wonder the band presents their music so well, which includes a number of musical influences.
RECOMMENDATION The WildRoots have developed their original musical style, which is somewhere between blues 'n' funk and rock 'n' soul, and this style is adorned with Victor's keyboards and extremely expressive vocals. In addition, there is a sharp and strong guitar, great wind instruments, great vocals, and there are really special songs that will win you over at first listening. Accordingly, the album is really easy to recommend to everyone, because there is simply no mistake. The next thing is - what all of us who love this music are looking forward to - the sequel to this exceptional music offering in the form of “The WildRoots Sessions Volume 2”.
- Written by Mladen Loncar
Blues Music Magazine
The WildRoots – WildRoots Sessions Vol. 1 Imagine its 1962 and you turn on your GE transistor radio after midnight in the middle of nowhere, and all the 50,000 – watt clear channel AM radio stations have disappeared. Suddenly, you hear through the ether haze a distant station playing music you’ve never heard before, but it has a comfortable somehow familiar sound. It’s not Motown from Detroit. It’s not WMEX from Boston. There’s no Randy’s Record Mart selling rubies you can’t get at the local record shop. And best of all, these songs cut across the best stuff from Chess, Sun, Stax – Volt, and Excello Records. You turn the dial, and the sound comes in really clearly. Makes you wish you had your big brother’s stereo FM radio in the polished wooden cabinet. You’re grooving. And then, 16 songs in, it’s gone. There’s not enough space here to explain all the nuances of this release. Suffice to say, it’s the best retro stuff you never heard before. Victor Wainwright and Stephen Dees have gathered up almost 30 different musicians they’ve worked with over 16 years and recorded 16 different numbers almost all written by Dees, but including the Stax – Volt classic “634-5789” and Leiber and Stoller’s “Santa Claus Is Back In Town “ just to ground this flight of fancy. Throw in a couple big - name heavyweights like John Oates of Hall and Oates and Lucky Peterson and take the Way Back machine to an alternate universe. Then, throw an oldies party and slip this CD in rotation between a Stax – Volt collection and a Malaco greatest hits album and mess up some minds.
- Don Wilcock
A pair of white boys with the blues decide to celebrate 15 years of striking sparks by rounding up a whole gaggle of cats that influenced and informed them and making a real party out of it. With a guest list that's mind boggling, you couldn't get a better set if Paul Shaffer rounded up his SNL/Letterman pals and enlisted them to have a party. This set makes every hour after hours and the party never ends. Simply smoking.
- Chris Spector
Concert Monkey Review Jan 2021
WildRoots Records was founded in 2005 by Stephen Dees, Victor Wainwright and Patricia Ann Dees. The label focuses mainly on blues, roots, folk and Americana artists and is committed to creating music that is both diverse and soulful. The first album to be released on WildRoots Records was 'Piana From Savannah' by Victor Wainwright. In 2009 The WildRoots released their debut album 'Beale Street to the Bayou'. Two years later, the follow-up was 'Lit Up!’ In 2015 they teamed up with Blind Pig Records for the album 'Boom Town', which is also their most successful album to date. Now sixteen years after the founding of WildRoots Records, 'WildRoots Sessions Volume 1' is released, a collection of sixteen songs that go from blues, roots and rhythm & blues to soul. It ranges from cheerful romp on the piano to back porch blues and blues rock and roll. There is something for everyone on 'WildRoots Sessions Volume 1'.
The album opens with the sweet, soulful duet '634-5789', sung by Victor Wainwright and Patricia Ann Dees. The elderly among us certainly know this song, because in the mid-sixties Wilson Pickett already scored a hit with this great song. Stephen Dees wrote the swampy gospel song 'Something In The Water'. Drummer Alberto Cruz starts the song with a tight drum intro. The soulful voice of Billy Livesay is extremely well suited for this 'Something In The Water'. The same can be said about the soulful voices of Beth McKee and Patricia Ann Dees, who have a great input with their excellent backing vocals. Stephen Kampa is also in the spotlight here with his gritty harmonica playing. Patricia Ann Dees is a great singer we hear again in the soulful 'Move Along Pt.1'. Greg Gumpel lashes out with a great guitar solo and percussionist Robert Caban provides the instrumental finishing. The soulful ballad 'Our Last Goodbye' has a mighty beginning thanks to Charlie DeChant's fantastic saxophone. John Oates sings this emotional ballad with a lot of feeling and Chris Stephenson carries the melody with his warm Hammond sounds. The Christmas period is apparently not over for Victor Wainwright, because he sings with a growling voice 'Santa Claus Is Back In Town'. You can hear that he still has good and fast fingers in the piano solo and Charlie DeChant also blows a great solo from his tenor saxophone.
The quiet vintage 'Easy Chair' is a jazzy song, with the wonderful voice of Patricia Ann Dees. Instrumentally it is the excellent harmonica player Stephen Kampa who draws all the attention. The poppy 'Memphis Queen' takes us back to the fifties and sixties of the last century. Nick Black sings the song and the slide solo on the guitar comes from Nick Black. The only song Stephen Dees sings is 'Square'. His wife Patricia Ann Dees is excellent throughout the song and explicitly present on the flute. She crowns her instrumental performance with a very good solo. Also mention that Doug Bare makes a wonderful contribution to the Hammond and that the drums and the bongos are by Mark Roffe. The gospel song 'Cradled In The Bosom Of Jerusalem' is a duet between Beth McKee and Victor Wainwright. Of course, a choir with soulful voices should not be missing here. The beautiful acoustic slide guitar work comes from Pat Harrington and harmonica player Stephen Kampa is also in the spotlight again.
Kampa does that again in 'King Snake Crawl Revisited'. Robert 'Top' Thomas wrote this acoustic Delta blues song together with Stephen Dees. Robert sings the song and the acoustic slide work on the dobro is also his. 'Move Along Pt.2' is a very short instrumental track lasting less than two minutes. Drummer Billy Dean and bassist Stephen Dees provide the infectious exotic groove, on which keyboardist Gerard Guida, percussionist Robert Caban and saxophonist Charlie DeChant can fully indulge themselves to showcase their instrumental class.
‘Misty Morning In New Orleans’ was written by Stephen Dees and Pat Travers. Pat recorded the song for the 1990 album 'School Of Hard Knocks'. The WildRoots version remains very close to the original Travers version. Mark Hodgson has a powerful rock voice and he sings the song with great conviction. The beautiful guitar work comes from Steve Shanholtzer. With Anthony 'Packrat' Thompson we get a different voice in the swinging 'Where I Am'. A wonderful Victor Wainwright on piano, a fantastic Ray Guiser on tenor sax and excellent Billy Dean on drums provide the instrumental enjoyment. The nearly six-minute melodic ballad 'In A Sad Room', written by Stephen Dees and Bryant Bassett, is one of the highlights of the album. It is sung with great feeling by the beautiful voice of Chris Merrell. Lucky Peterson carries the melody of this emotional ballad with his warm Hammond sounds and he also provides a beautiful outro on the Hammond. Bryan Bassett, who helped write the song, comes out with a very soulful guitar solo. The sober and modest 'Bend In The Road' lasts less than a hundred seconds, but still singer Patricia Ann Dees and harmonica player Stephen Kampa know how to touch you in that short time. Stephen Dees accompanies Patricia Ann and Kampa on the acoustic guitar. The album ends with 'I'm Yours', which is the longest track on the album with over eight minutes. Dees and Wainwright wrote it and Victor knows how to sing this love song with so much emotion and passion that it makes you very quiet. His piano playing is also of excellent quality, as is the mighty work of Charlie DeChant on the saxophone. WildRoots Sessions Volume 1 by The WildRoots is an excellent and very varied album. It is an album with which the band can reach a very wide audience. 'WildRoots Sessions Volume 1' is good for more than one hour of listening pleasure.
Concert Monkey (Translation from Dutch)
Blues Blast Magazine
This album requires a bit of historical background to fully understand. Victor Wainwright and Stephen Dees began their musical partnership back in 2005, when Dees co-wrote and produced Wainwright’s debut solo release Piana’ From Savannah. They then formed the WildRoots band, fronted by Wainwright. Next, they released several albums, including the 2015 release, Boom Town, which won Blues Blast Magazine’s award for Contemporary Blues Album of the Year, and led to Wainwright winning BB King Entertainer of the Year, and Wainwright & the WildRoots being named Band of the Year at the Blues Music Awards. Wainwright and Dees have since started their own record label, similarly named WildRoots Records.
You might think you know what to expect on this album because you’ve seen Victor Wainwright and the WildRoots perform in the past. But the first thing you will notice about this album is that there is quite a bit going on. In addition to Wainwright, Dees, and Patricia Ann Dees (considered the “core” members of the band), eight WildRoots alumni play on the album, eight additional lead vocalists are spotlighted, and seven guest musicians are also featured, including Pat Harrington (from Wainwright’s band, The Train), Lucky Peterson and Michael Shrieve. There is also a variety of song styles, including soul, blues, gospel, and roots Rock ‘n’ Roll. The second thing you will likely notice about this album is the excellent sound mix, with each song consistently sounding clear and crisp, even when played on low-budget laptop speakers.
The album begins with Wainwright and Patricia Ann Dees singing a duet version of the song that Eddie Floyd and Steve Cropper wrote for Wilson Pickett, “634-5789”. Even in this light and catchy cover song, the stunning tone and interesting character of Wainwright’s voice is evident. Aside from this and one other cover song, the remaining 14 tracks were written or co-written by Dees, who seems equally comfortable penning songs in any genre. Not surprisingly, the recent political climate appears to have inspired two powerfully written songs for this album. Guest singer Billy Livesay delivers Dees’ song “Something in the Water,” noting “A man’s going crazy up on the hill…tainted news, toxic lies. When right is wrong and wrong is right…must be something in the water.” Additionally, Dees and Wainwright collaborated to write “Where I am,” in which their plea for unity states, “I know what I believe and I’m here to say, hate and evil get out of my way…I’ll respect your views, you respect mine. Treat each other with kindness. Let everybody shine.” This latter message is delivered by the wonderfully gravelly voice of Anthony “Packrat” Thompson.
Guest artist, John Oates (formerly of Hall and Oates fame), has turned his focus lately to the blues, and his voice sounds better than ever on the slow blues song, “Our Last Goodbye”. This song also features one of the many perfectly placed saxophone solos on this album, performed by three different sax players, Ray Guiser, Charlie DeChant and Patricia Ann Dees.
With such a wide variety of collaborations among so many amazing musicians, it is difficult to focus on only a few tracks for the limited space of a record review, as that will ultimately lead to many notable performances appearing to have been overlooked. But, if I had to pick favorites from this outstanding collection, I would pick the stirring and beautiful gospel duet written by Dees and performed by Wainwright and Beth McKee, “Cradled in the Bosom of Jerusalem,” and the Dees/Wainwright song performed by Wainwright, “I’m Yours,” which ends the album. Ever since hearing Wainwright perform “Same Old Blues,” I have been hoping he would write an original song in a similar style which highlights the power, texture, and range of his voice. I believe “I’m Yours” is just such a song and will be the new song that fans will soon be requesting at his shows. With such an impressive collection of talent, it is not surprising that there are few, if any flaws to be detected.
In summary, this album celebrates a long history of collaborations among numerous remarkable musicians. With excellent songwriting, stellar performances, and wide-ranging styles, it is an album easily recommended for everyone. It is likely to leave us all eagerly anticipating the release of Volume Two.
- Blues Blast Magazine
Anita Schlank lives in Virginia, and is on the Board of Directors for the River City Blues Society. She has been a fan of the blues since the 1980s. She and Tab Benoit co-authored the book "Blues Therapy," with all proceeds from sales going to the HART Fund.
Bentley's Bandstand Americana Highways
"Our Last Goodbye" - Song of the Month April 2021
John Oates & the WildRoots, “Our Last Goodbye.” There was an unforgettable song on Blood, Sweat & Tears’ debut album titled “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know.” Founding member Al Kooper wrote and sang it, and it was so stellar that soon none other than Donny Hathaway covered it. It’s one of those one-in-a-million affairs. John Oates, best known as half of Hall & Oates, recorded “Our Last Goodbye” for the WildRoots’ SESSIONS VOLUME 1 album, and it’s up there in the same territory as Kooper’s song. Oates’ voice gets low down and dusty from note one, and works the dark end of the street like few singers can do these days. The band’s Victor Wainwright and Stephen Dees make sure the players keep everything shoved way deep in the pocket, and near the end the saxophone solo that takes over is dripping with such feeling the whole affair might as well be at a Sunday morning gospel get-down. It’s that good.
- Bentley's Bandstand Americana Highways "On the road collecting the stories of Americana music"
Rhythm & Booze
The Wildroots, are a partnership of musicians, led by Victor Wainwright Jr. and Stephen Dees, who have now collaborated together since 2005, creating the landmark album Boom Town back in 2015. They’re back together, along with 10 other core band members, to bring us a 16 track monster Session, labelled Vol. 1! Joining this considerable gathering of vocalists, guitarists, percussionists and brassed up folk, are a further 7 guest musicians, all of which, prevents me listing all those involved.
Victor himself is lead piano, organ player and vocalist, Stephen adds guitar, bass, and percussion, as well as vocals. He is also responsible for writing or collaborating on 14 of these songs, plus engineering, alongside his wife Patricia Anne Dees, who is also, a core band member.
I’ll tuck the 2 cover tracks out of the way first, ‘634-5789’, a Floyd/Cropper R&B song, recorded by Wilson Picket back in ‘66, opens the album, with Victor and Patricia sharing vocals. Leiber & Stoller, wrote, ‘Santa Claus Is Back In Town’, which is a cracking groove by any measure. The music is truly a selection box of tasty goodies that will have you diving in to scoff the lot.
R&B is predominate, with polished brass, and a ‘Big Easy’ vibe, like the excellent ‘Memphis Queen’, featuring slide guitarist Nick Black on vocals, with Stax like horns breezing in. Anthony ‘Packrat’ Thompson, adds gritty verbal’s to the horn flecked rhythm of, ‘Where I Am’, a lovely groove, with great choral support and Victor hammering the ivories.
You’ll also be converted by the gospel according to Billy Livesay, who finds there must be, ‘Something In The Water’, full of spirited harp from Stephen Kampa, guitar, drum and bass. Let the spirit guide you to being, ‘Cradled In The Bosom Of Jerusalem’, superbly preached by the wonderful Beth McKee, who shares vocals with Wainwright, it’s contagious, you will be converted.
The deep Blues flag is flown proudly in, ‘King Snake Crawl Revisited’, with Robert Thomas on vocals, and Kampa on harp. A much more and soulful blues, adds gorgeous tenor sax from Charlie DeChant, to John Oates voice, in, ‘Our Last Goodbye’. DeChant also features on the tear jerking, soulful blues of the closing track, with Victor Wainwright on piano and impassioned vocals, in, ‘I’m Yours’.
Proving this album covers an enviable width of genre influenced grooves, there’s also the cool licks of blues jazz, Patricia Dees, calls in the, ‘Move Along Part 1’, its beautiful stuff, the instrumental chill out of ‘Part 2’ slots in later. Also notable by its period feel of jazz edged, soul filled blues, maybe reflective of the 30’s or 40’s, ‘Easy Chair’, is cozily settled by Patricia Dees, with Kampa on harp, over the wallpaper of brushed drums, and rhythm guitar, put your feet up and enjoy as Patricia encourages a little chairobics.
It’s all but impossible to not to find more than enough wonderful content to satisfy temptation, and add this to your musical accompaniment to this currently difficult life we inhabit, take some time out and enjoy the Wildroots Sessions Vol. 1, Stephen Dees, as principle songwriter, and producer seems to have an abundance of talents, and has drawn around him some exceptional musicians and vocalists.
- Rhythm & Booze (Britain) Graham Munn
Celebrating 16 years of a musical partnership that began in 2005, Victor Wainwright and Stephen Dees have released a new Wildroots record, Wildroots Sessions Volume 1. Their take on the Eddie Floyd/Steve Cropper penned hit 634-5789 is a soulful duet between Wainwright and the soft sounding Patricia Ann Dees with the late Eddie Zyne on drums (the album is dedicated to him), lead guitar from Todd Sharp, David Kent tickling the ivories and Mr John Oates providing rhythm guitar and backing vocals alongside Beth McKee. A strong start in my humble opinion. Move Along Part 1 is a groovy blend of Robert Caban on percussion and drummer Billy Dean as they give space for Greg Gumpel’s electric guitar solo. Oates returns to provide the lead vocal on Our Last Goodbye (an original composition written by Stephen Dees) complete with a Billy Joel-esque Tenor Sax solo from Charlie DeChant. Wainwright’s very early festive offering with Leiber and Stoller’s Santa Claus Is Back In Town puts a smile on my face whilst Square puts me in a poetry-slam environment complete with Mark Roffe’s bongos and Doug Bare on Hammond Organ. Co-written by Pat Travers and Stephen Dees, Misty Morning in New Orleans has a radio-friendly vocal and harmonica by Mark Hodgson and will appeal to fans of Paul Weller’s dulcet tones! In A Sad Room is a truly heart-breaking number not just because of the tender lyrics that remind me of a Foreigner tune or Chris Merell’s majestic voice but the fact that it includes the late Lucky Peterson on Hammond Organ, the late Scott Corwin on drums and Merrell also passed away. Hauntingly beautiful. In conclusion, this sixteen-track record is brimming with talented musicians and songwriters and it is the kind of album that over time will grow on you, it will mean something different to each listener.
- Glenn Sargeant (Great Britain)
WildRoots Bluesman Victor Wainwright first came to fame with the bands Wild Roots and Southern Hospitality, and has gone on to forge an acclaimed path with The Train. Wainwright still plays with his buddies in WildRoots, and this time out gives most of the spotlight to his partner of 16 years, Stephen Dees. Dees (bass and guitar), his multi-instrumentalist and vocalist wife Patricia Ann Dees and Wainwright are the core three in WildRoots. Stephen Dees produced the album, and both he and his wife engineered and arranged it. To say they get lots of help is a vast understatement. The credits here are ridiculous—29 guest musicians in all—comprising both WildRoots alumni and a host of others with gleaming resumes.
Stephen Dees wrote or co-wrote an impressive 14 of these 16 selections, with one cover of Eddie Floyd and one from Leiber & Stoller to round out the mix of blues, soul, and R&B – Memphis style. Dees’ writing is based in typical blues structures and chord progressions we’ve heard a million times, but they are vehicles that provide showcases for the multitudes assembled here. This will get way too tedious if we attempt to list the many players or even the featured artists on each track, as this is a comprehensive, democratic effort to involve all, with many appearing on just one track. Nevertheless, notable guests include Michael Shrieve (Santana), the late Lucky Peterson and John Oates.
Beginning with Floyd’s “634-5789” we hear the soulful vocals of Patricia Ann Dees paired with Wainwright. She sings again on “Move Along Part 1,” “Easy Chair” and “Bend in the Road.” Wainwright sings on three others, a gritty take on Leiber & Stoller’s “Santa Claus Is Back in Town,” with Beth McKee on the gospel-infused “Cradled in the Bosom of Jerusalem,” and former WildRoots saxophonist Charlie DeChant on the closing “I’m Yours,” the album’s best track (saving the best for last).
Standout tracks include the impassioned vocal from Oates and soulful tenor solo from DeChant on “Our Last Goodbye,” the stripped-down “Easy Chair” with a sensuous vocal from Patricia Ann supported by Stephen Kampa’s harmonica, the old-time swing of “Memphis Queen” featuring Nick Black on vocals and slide guitar, and the ebullient, nostalgic “Misty Morning in New Orleans” with Mark Hodgson on vocals and harmonica.
This is a sumptuous feast where just about every dish is inviting for those who like the throwback sound and seek a variety of styles.
- Jim Hynes 2021 Elmore Magazine
Wildroots members Victor Wainwright and Stephen Dees formed a musical partnership in 2005 that continues to this day with their band The Wildroots and their new release Wildroots Sessions Volume 1 a sixteen song mix of blues, roots and Americana music. The band is rounded out by core member Patricia Ann Dees and Wildroots musical family alumni Billy Dean, Charlie DeChant, Greg Gumpel, Stephen Kampa, Ray Guiser, Nick Black and Albert Cruz, The impressive lineup of special guests include John Oates (Daryl Hall & John Oates), Michael Shrieve (Santana), Bryan Bassett (Foghat), Todd Sharp (Rod Stewart/Delbert McClinton), Buffalo born Pat Harrington (The Train) and the late Lucky Peterson, David Kent (Daryl Hall & John Oates), Beth McKee and Eddie Zyne (Daryl Hall & John Oates) and many others. Some of the tracks to wet your whistle from Wildroots Sessions Volume 1 include a cover of the Eddie Floyd/Steve Cropper penned classic "634-5789", "Something in the Water 2020", the slow dark blues number "Our Last Goodbye" with John Oates on vocals, "Cradled in the Bosom of Jerusalem" with Harrington on guitar and Wainwright and McKee on vocals, the slinky "Easy Chair" and the holiday classic "Santa Claus is Back in Town" with Harrington and Shrieve on guitar and drums respectively. Other tracks of note include the outstanding "King Snake Crawl Revisited" with Robert "Top" Thomas on vocals and guitar, the blues romp "Where I Am" with Anthony "Packrat" Thompson testifying, the mournful "Bend in the Road" with Patricia Ann Dees on vocals, the soulful blues number "In a Sad Room" that's propelled by Lucky Peterson's Hammond B3 organ swirls and the eight minute declaration to love album closer "I'm Yours".
- Bob Silvestri WNY Entertainment
Jefferson Blues Magazine
This CD is released to celebrate Victor Wainwrights and Stephen Dees, The WildRoots, sixteen years of collaboration, which thus began in 2005. The previous album, "Boom Town", came in 2015. This time they have a different concept, because they wanted to include all the musicians and singers with whom they have collaborated over the years. In addition to Patricia Ann Dees, Stephen's wife, there are 29 other singers and musicians, of whom I only recognize Lucky Peterson, who plays the Hammond organ on "In a sad room". Most of the sixteen songs have been written by Stephen Dees alone or by him and Victor Wainwright together. However, the album begins with Eddie Floyd's and Steve Cropper's "634-5789", which Patricia Ann Dees does really well with Wainwright.
Wainwright plays organ and piano and is responsible for most of the singing, while Dees mainly plays guitar and sings. Dees is also responsible for production. Dee's craftsmanship on different types of guitars is very good. I also like Patricia Ann Dee's singing voice and Stephen Kampa's harmonica. It's a mix of blues, soul and Americana, with a lot of wind and good swing. You get a lot for your money. 16 songs but a full 67 minutes of playing time.
- Written by Thomas Almqvist.
They began to pool their efforts as part of a musical collaboration in 2005, their last release “Boom Town” was unanimously acclaimed by critics and brought them a nice harvest of awards. Enough to make them want to continue the adventure of the WildRoots in the company of Patricia Ann Dees but also Billy Dean and Alberto Cruz on drums, Charlie DeChant and Ray Guiser on tenor sax, Nick Black on Guitar and Stephen Kampa on harmonica, but also whole range of guests including Mark Hodgson, Todd Sharp, Bryan Bassett and, last but not least, Lucky Peterson. In no less than fourteen titles written or co-written by Stephen Dees to which are added the famous “634-5789” by Wilson Pickett and the no less famous “Santa Claus is Back In Town” by Elvis Presley.
The WildRoots invite us this time to a great overview of American music with a large part of blues and rock’n’roll of course, but also with soul and roots music as we like them. The album is a very nice testimony of what encounters and exchanges between musicians able to produce better with superb songs like “Something In The Water 2020” sung by Billy Livesay, like the duo of Victor Wainwright and Beth McKee on “Cradled In The Bosom Of Jerusalem”, as “Misty Morning In New Orleans” sung by Mark Hodgson or as “In A Sad Room “sung by Chris Merrell and supported by Lucky Petersons Hammond organ.
Beautiful play, a feeling of every moment and of course musicians who are obviously happy to take part in this ambitious project. It doesn’t take more for this first volume of “WildRoots Sessions” to appeal many others for years to come, with it hoped even more success and recognition for those who make the effort to share such beautiful moments with the public.
- Fred Delforge/ Zicazine (Translated from French)
Historias del Blues Review
The pianist Victor Wainwright and the bassist Stephen Dees began to work together in 2005 first creating the WildRoots label and, later, with the production of the first albums of the pianist who formed his band with the same name of the record company.
"WildRoots Sessions Volume 1" is the return of the main core of WildRoots , which also includes singer Patricia Ann Dees , after the album "Boom Town" , with which Victor Wainwright won the Blues Blast Music Award for Best Album of 2015.
To celebrate 16 years of work, Wainwright and Dees have brought together 29 musicians to present this album that has 16 songs -14 written by Dees- with an orientation towards blues, soul and rock'n'roll, which have been the loud sounds of WildRoots.
Among the invited musicians are the singer John Oates (Hall & Oates) who at this point in his career has leaned towards the blues, the late Lucky Peterson , the guitarist Robert "Top" Thomas and the drummer Michael Shrieve , remembered for the mythical solo in the song "Soul sacrifice", when he was with Santana at Woodstock.
This first album of the WildRoots sessions is very entertaining, with a variety of styles that help the listener to follow it very carefully. All the songs have their particular point of interest, they are very well worked and with a sound that allows to appreciate the qualities of each instrument in any speaker.
Definitely Wainwright, Dees and his wife know the roots of their music very well, they move wildly to attack their listeners with compassion, allowing them to enjoy a very well organized celebration.
RECOMMENDED SONGS: Something in the water 2020, Move along (1 and 2), Memphis Queen, Square, King Snake Crawl Revisited.
- Historias del Blues (Translated from Spanish)
La Hora del Blues
(4 stars - Great)
Making a Scene
Victor Wainwright was born in Savannah. He attended college in Daytona and moved to Memphis where he was employed during the day as an Air Traffic Controller at Memphis International Airport. At night Wainwright honed his piano skills in the clubs along Beale Street. He met bassist Stephen Dees in 2004. Wainwright released his first recording “Piana from Savannah”, on the Wildroots imprint, in 2005. It was produced by Dees who also became his writing partner. In 2009 Victor Wainwright & The Wildroots released “Beale Street to the Bayou”; and followed up with 2011’s “Lit Up!” which garnered Wainwright his first Blues Music Award nomination. The Wildroots followed-up with their best album, “Boom Town”, in 2015. Overall Wainwright has seven BMA’s winning five times for “Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year”; and winning for both “Entertainer of the Year”, and “Band of the Year” in 2016.
These never before released tracks include the “core” band of Wainwright, piano, organ and lead vocals; Stephen Dees, bass, guitars, lead and background vocals; Patricia Ann Dees, lead and background vocals, sax and flute; Charlie DeChant, saxophones; Stephen Kampa, harmonica; and Billy Dean, drums. At times the Wildroots also included vocalist Nick Black; saxophonist Ray Guiser; and drummer Alberto Cruz. These were laid back sessions as twenty-three additional guests are also featured including seven more vocalists.
The album opens with the Eddie Floyd/Steve Cropper written “634-5789”, a #1 single for Wilson Pickett in 1966; it is performed here as a duet between Wainwright and Patricia. This album is dedicated to the memory of Eddie Zyne who plays drums on the track. The only other cover is the Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller written “Santa Claus is Back in Town” first recorded by Elvis Presley in 1965, with Wainwright taking the lead vocal.
Fourteen more songs are originals written or co-written by Stephen Dees. Patricia sings lead on three additional tracks including “Move Along Part 1”. Billy Livesay sings on “Something in the Water 2020”. Additional highlights include John Oates singing and playing rhythm guitar on “Our Last Goodbye”; vocalist Black stepping upfront on “Memphis Queen”, and Stephen Dees taking his turn on “Square”. Robert “Top” Thomas sings and plays guitar on “King Snake Crawl Revisited”.
The album documents these thoroughly enjoyable, fine and friendly sessions. Hopefully there are many more good times ahead.
- Richard Ludmerer
Bman's Blues Report
I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, WildRoots Sessions Volume 1, from The WildRoots and it’s really cool. Opening with Eddie Floyd's classic, 634-5789, Stephen Dees on bass, Victor Wainwright on piano and lead vocal and Patricia Ann Dees on lead vocal and sax, joined by John Oates on rhythm guitar, Eddie Zyne on drums, Todd Sharp on lead guitar, David Kent on piano, and Beth McKee on backing vocal this is a soulful opener. Move Along Part 1 is a super jam with tight percussion and horns. With Patricia on lead vocal, Greg Gumpel on guitar, Gerard Guida on Hammond Robert Caban on percussion, and Billy Dean on drums this is a hot track. Charlie DeChant lays in a really nice tenor sax solo soulful ballad, Our Last Goodbye featuring John Oates on lead vocal. Very nice. Venturing into spiritual music, Cradled In The Bosom of Jerusalem, has deep gospel styling with rich vocal work by Wainwright, Particia, Beth McKee, drums by Alberto Cruz and acoustic slide by Pat Harrington. Robert "Top" Thomas has the mic on King Snake Crawl Revisited adding guitar and backed by Stephen Kampa on harmonica. Funky, Move Along Part 2, features DeChant on lead sax, with Guida on organ, Gumpel on guitar and Dean on drums. In A Sad Room is my choice for top radio track with a catchy melody and smooth vocal lead by Chris Merrell. Bryan Bassett on lead guitar, Scott Corwin on drums, Top Thomas on guitar and Lucky Peterson on Hammond round out the mix. Wrapping the release is another soulful ballad, I'm Yours, featuring Wainwright on lead vocal and piano. Charlie DeChant shines balances nicely on sax making this a solid track to close.