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    A week ago, Hambone played at the Prime Lounge and Zanzibar, the former being a show with longtime Louisville favorite Bodeco. This Thursday at 7:00 P.M, the hard working bluesman will be performing an in-store show at ear-X-tacy, and Friday at 9:00, he will host a CD release party for his new album Conflagrations at the Germantown landmark Check's Café at 1101 East Burnett Avenue.

    It's fitting that such a blue collar type of musician will be celebrating his music at such an unpretentious yet revered local eatery and watering hole. Anyway, holding a CD release party in, say, an art gallery wouldn't be very Hambone-like.

    Nick Hamstra a.k.a. Hambone is a young artist who is indebted to the past but in no desire to simply try and recreate it. One listen to Crying off Conflagrations, and you will swear the singer couldn't be a 20-something white Indianapolis native and Louisville resident. The voice, the inflection, the complete sound has the feel of a Mississippi Delta bluesman at least twice his age. But he doesn't comply with all of the typical conventions of the blues, either. For instance, you don't hear any repeated lines at the beginning of his songs, no repetition like you'd find on a classic blues song like Muddy Waters' I Got My Mojo Working. However, Hawk has all of the grit and muscle of a song Waters might have played in a rural, smoky bar.

    Geek veers closer to true rock than blues with a touch of John Fogerty's growl surfacing to good effect against some memorable guitar riffs. If you are not big on the blues and think Lightnin' Hopkins is merely the title of an R.E.M. song, you will probably still enjoy Conflagartions. The opener Get In My Heart is more rockabilly than blues, and there's a Keith Richards'-like guitar sound to Different Than Your Family. With its slower pace and conversational lyrics ("I ain't your boyfriend, I'm your man"), I Ain't Your Boyfriend ventures more into country territory than traditional blues. Ham and Eggs has a country, CCR-like stomp that seems destined to be a crowd favorite. Untitled, which ends the record, is a bluesy-folk, acoustic song with a front porch feel a bit in the WillyPorter style.

    Twenty-Six may be a title that matches his age when he wrote the song, but the song sounds like someone who's been making records that long. Hard to believe that Hamstra has only been playing guitar for about a decade. Often playing live with only the accompaniment of a simple Stray Cats-like drum kit usually performed by John Hays, Hamstra's voice and guitar interplay to create a rich and full sound despite the limited instrumentation. He may not have the Rn'B vibe mixed with his blues like that of veterans Robert Cray and Robert Bradley, but he owns their undeniable feel of the music. Think of him as a Midwestern Marc Broussard, but Hamstra tries to imitate no one, recording and playing music on his own terms.

    While "our" Hambone doesn't have the drama and tragedy associated with him like that of another Hambone Willie Newbern, a Tennessee blues guitarist and singer from the 1920-1930s who was killed in prison, he doesn't have to bring that sort of baggage to the table. Instead, he brings an impassioned voice and inspired playing to his new CD and numerous live shows.

    Both the ear-X-tacy show and the release party are free and open to all ages.

    Kevin Sedelmeier's picture

    About Kevin Sedelmeier

    I am polite, and I'm rarely late. I like to eat ice cream, and really enjoy a nice pair of slacks.

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