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CD REVIEW -- Corey Dennison Band
GLT blues radio


Night After Night

Delmark Records

13 tracks/61:14

Corey Dennison CD

by Greg Easterling

Not letting any green grass grow under his dusty walking shoes, Corey Dennison returns with Night After Night, the second release in as many years for Chicago's venerable Delmark Records. The legendary Little Milton once sang that “the Blues is alright” and it really still is today with new releases like Dennison's available. He spent over a decade in the employ of veteran Chi-town blues man Carl Weathersby, a real life son of the blues learning how to lead a band while honing his guitar and writing skills.


You sense eagerness and feel the energy in the grooves that can't be faked, it's either there or it's not. And it is definitely here in Night After Night, an exciting followup to the band's 2016 Delmark debut, co-produced by Dennison and the band with Steve Wagner. It also reverberates in the frequency of Dennison's hometown appearances whether opening for national touring acts at City Winery, playing festivals in Europe, or paying his dues with regular gigs at hardcore Chicago blues spots like Buddy Guy's Legends, Kingston Mines and Harlem Avenue Lounge.


With multi-instrumentalist Gerry Hundt, Dennison continues to write original material in the spirit of the first album. This time, the two of them penned more than half of the new album's thirteen tracks with five more choice, but not typical, covers from the catalogs of Weathersby,

Jimmy Reed, Tyrone Davis, and the Cate Brothers.


Night After Night descends in classic style with the plaintive “Hear My Plea”. Like the blues equivalent of the prologue to a Greek tragedy, Dennison stands before us to state his case as the music settles into a relaxed “Rock Me Baby”/B.B. King kind of groove. But before we get too comfortable there, the next song song “Misti” comes on with its Average White Band “Pick Up the Pieces”-like intro. It's a joyous original love song with the title spelled out so as not to be confused with the jazz standard, “Misty.” Nevertheless, you'll be inspired to play “Misti” for me, so to speak in ways that Erroll Garner probably never imagined!


“I Got The Shivers” follows with one of the album's 5-star guitar solos from Dennison. Also check out “It's So Easy”, the album's longest jam at nearly seven minutes for more guitar heroics. In contrast, “Better Man” brings the tempo down as Dennison talks the introduction, paying tribute to his influences and acknowledging that “bad times have made me a better man.” It's delivered in a down home, “Patches”-like soliloquy that unearths Dennison's southern roots in Georgia and Tennessee.


Dennison wrote the next one, “Phone Keeps Ringing” all by himself and it's one of the album's funkiest offerings. The Hundt-Dennison connection comes back together for “Nothing's Too Good (For My Baby)” with a classic Memphis feel and one of Dennison's most notable vocals.  On “Nightcreeper 2 (Still Creepin')”, Dennison delivers a talking blues response to a previous track from the up and coming band Kilborn Alley, originally from downstate Decatur, Illinois.


After a progression of first rate originals, Dennison and the band fill out Night After Night with a string of connected covers. “Love Ain't Fair” derives from his musical mentor and onetime band leader Carl Weathersby who is also respected for his work with Billy Branch and Lurrie Bell in the Sons Of The Blues band decades ago in Chicago.


“Are You Serious” comes from the legendary Tyrone Davis and puts Dennison in a more soulful space where he's nearly as confident, also taking an unexpected turn into gospel with “Troubles of the World” from the public domain. Covering the Cate Brothers “Stuck in Chicago” is an inspired pick for obvious reasons while Dennison wraps up the album with a song from another blues legend, Jimmy Reed's “Down In Virginia”.


Dennison credits his band liberally, making sure they are named and pictured on the cover of Night After Night. Besides Gerry Hundt, on second guitar, organ and harp, the band for this project was Joel Baer on drums and Nik Skilnik on bass. Hundt and Skilnik were both once with Windy City blues rock mainstay Nick Moss. After the new album was recorded, Skilnik was replaced by Aaron Whittier who was around the sessions to contribute backing vocals; Whittier is also pictured on the cover.


Night After Night is a strong followup to Dennison's self-titled Delmark debut but also a worthy first listen by way of introduction. The band is building an international following with recent European touring. And they are one of the best things going locally on the Chicago blues scene where fans know their music. With more albums like Night After Night, the Corey Dennison Band should be in demand for years to come, both home and away.


Greg Easterling holds down the 12 midnight – 5 a.m. shift on WDRV (97.1 FM) He also hosts American Backroads on WDCB (90.9 FM) Thursdays at 9 p.m.


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