Franc Robert and the Boxcar Tourists are a dyed in the wool blues band, whether it be Chicago based, jump blues, Delta style, funky stuff that sounds like it just crawled out of the swamp or even the blues/rock tune they throw in from time to time or whatever the crowd and the situation might call for. Having proved to the blues purists that he can pull it off beautifully just man and guitar, he has gone back to the band format, showing the world that Franc Robert is not a one trick pony. This cat and his band may be based in Florida, but when it comes to the blues, they are citizens of the world. There is no blues style that is off limits…as long as it’s the real deal. Where so many performers are blues/rockers with the emphasis heavily placed on the rock, Franc Robert plays a style of blues that when it delves into the blue/rock arena remains deeply rooted in the blues. Much like what could be heard in jukes and roadhouses throughout the South, this is a music that is easy on the ear, easy to dance to and just plain fun. With Franc on guitars, Sam Mudd on bass, Dave Simmons on percussion, Joe Sadowski on harp, and all members of the band chipping in on vocals with Franc Robert taking the lead, this band has it covered top to bottom and side to side. Once more, all songs on the album were written by the King of the Hoboes himself. This is a legitimate band, playing what they know, and playing from the heart. This is not some overproduced thing that sounds like it came out of a can. With Franc Robert & the Boxcar Tourists what you see and hear is what you get. They’re not putting on airs for anybody. I am a blues lover from as far back as I can remember and then some. I am also a hardass when it comes to blues but I am sold on this band. They are the real deal. Muddy, Sonny Boy, Willie Dixon , Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter and the others are gone now and yes, the face of the blues has changed but hearing a band like this gives me hope that the blues may yet survive. – Bill Wilson
This JUST in, from John Vermilyea of the Blues Underground Network…
“Ride The Iron Road” marks the second album I have received from Franc Robert with the previous one being his 2012 release “Mulligan Stew” as Franc Robert & the Boxcar Tourists. “Mulligan Stew” was an album that really impressed me a lot, to the point where I even included it in my Blues Underground Network’s Top 10 USA Blues Albums 2012 List, of which some of what I wrote about that album was, “Franc Robert & the Boxcar Tourists are a rare group whom have put together a rare album indeed in “Mulligan Stew”, as this is the kind of great music that does not come around that often. I can only imagine how great it would be to play this album when camping around the campfire, as this one just has that right feel to it that can really warm the soul .” For “Ride The Iron Road”, Franc Robert has again brought us another rare treat, this time without The Boxcar Tourists as he goes Solo with just his great Voice and an equally great assortment of Guitars, which included, a National Style 1 tricone, Slide, a no-name dobro, Martin D-1R, and a 1921 Martin O-18.
“Ride The Iron Road” marks Franc Robert’s first return to his Acoustic side since his 2011 release “Why Do I Never Win”, as he offers up 11 original Tracks and 3 great Covers, “St. James Infirmary”, “Mississippi Blues”, and “Railroad Blues”. Franc Robert covers a fair bit of ground on “Ride The Iron Road”, which could be categorized as Son House Influenced, Modern Blues, and even Blues of a more Humorous nature. When you also include the Traditional three Covers, you can easily see how nicely diversified “Ride The Iron Road” is. Also with it’s diversification, comes it’s Authentic feeling side, brought to the forefront with a more Traditional length to all but one of the albums Tracks, for which the most part, fall in the under three minute category, with the opening Track actually only being 1:33 in length. I find that I really enjoy these types of albums of which the songs quickly get to the point, not relying on a whole bunch of sometimes unnecessary filler.
“Ride The Iron Road” was released April 15, 2014, and it did not take long for it to become noticed, most notably by WEFT 90.1 in Champaign, Illinois, for whom in their April 2014 Top 25 List had the album already pegged at #9 and in good company with the likes of The Holmes Brothers “Brotherhood” and Bob Corritore’s “Taboo” releases, not overly far ahead at #1 and #2.
Franc Robert’s love and knowledge of the Blues, in fact over 30 years of it, has certainly set him apart, especially when dealing with the more authentic Traditional style Blues of which you will notice right away on “Ride The Iron Road”.
Not that I needed a break, in any way, from his previous release, but never the less I sure enjoyed this other side to Franc Robert as I am sure that many others will that really enjoy super Blues done simply super.
“Ride The Iron Road” is an album I highly recommend… It is certainly one of the very best in the Solo Performer Category released, so far, in 2014…
Review by John Vermilyea (Blues Underground Network) http://www.bluesundergroundnetwork.com/
So far, what we’ve found on who’s playing the new CD Ride The Iron Road…
Mo Blues Monday on WMNF 88.5 FM, Tampa, FL
Top Blues w/ Terry O (syndicated)
Folk Renaissance Radio Show (Jacksonville AL WLJS 91.9)
WGLT (Normal, IL)
WEFT 90.1 FM (Champaign, IL)
Mother Road Blues Show with Kool Breeze (syndicated)
Charlietown Blues Show (syndicated)
Pork Chop Blues Show-Pualing Public Radio (NY State)
Edit: Sunnyland Steve’s Blues Show on KCSB 91.9 (Santa Barbara, CA)
If you hear of any others spinning the tunes, let us know!!!
Thanks to all of you DJs out there!!!
So far, where has Mulligan Stew been played? Well, here’s a list of what we know…
WMNF 88.5 Tampa, FL
Blues ‘n’ Boogie Internet
WRIP 97.9 Windham, NY
Pauling Public Radio
WEFT Champaign, IL
WHFR 93.3 Detroit MI
If you know of any other places it’s been played, please let us know, and we’ll add it to the list (I’m sure there’s a few more out there!!)
Thanks again to all the Radio and Internet DJs out there playing our music!!!