By Mike O’Cull
Under-the-radar guitar hero B. Christopher gets a chance to play the blues his way and slam-dunks it on his new solo album Snapshots From The Second Floor.
The new set puts the hot-handed guitarist in front of an all-pro studio band that includes Anton Fig (David Letterman Band, Joe Bonamassa) on drums, Studebaker John on harmonica, E.J. “Moose” Boles on lead vocals, and both Nick Douglas and Eric Collier on bass.
B. Christopher and the crew put down a lively bunch of vocal and instrumental blues tracks that shine a light on his guitar work but maintain a tight, ensemble-oriented sound that’s supremely listenable with or without a singer up front. The B. Christopher Band is a beyond-capable unit that is destined to impress with their chops, feel, and attitude and blues fans everywhere need to put this record on their Must-Listen list.
Unlike many of his peers, B. Christopher made his professional bones writing music for television. His original work has been used on hundreds of shows in more than 30 countries on NBC, ABC, Food Network, Netflix, Hulu, Discovery Channel, and many others. As such, he’s a straight-razor-sharp guitarist who can play anything he likes. He has consistently worked with top-level musicians on his recordings, a list of which would contain heavyweights Kenny Aronoff, Nathan East, Jerry Portnoy, Bruce Katz, Michael Powers, Andy Snitzer, Gerald Albright, and Stu Hamm. Although his 20 years in the TV business haven’t made him a household name, Christopher is looking to change that with this new album.
Christopher is a fierce and sophisticated guitarist and doesn’t disappoint anywhere on Snapshots From The Second Floor. His opening cut, “All Twisted Up,” is a high-test instrumental shuffle that pairs B’s reverb-drenched guitar parts with Studebaker John’s ripping harmonica lines. The combination generates more power than a hydroelectric dam and will snap your neck to attention as soon as you drop the needle. John’s harp tone is a thing of absolute beauty and he manipulates it with a masterful touch. This is the type of good-time blues that gets people buzzed up, talking loud, and moving around.
“Where You At” slows things down and lets the band tear into this tale of waiting at home for a lover who is out doing wrong. Vocalist E.J. “Moose” Boles spits the lyrics with anger and venom, communicates the despair of the situation, and leaves the ending of the story unresolved, just as real life often does. He’s a fine, expressive singer who practically jumps out of your speakers. Christopher throws down some of his most intense guitar lines on this one, showing he owns the wisdom needed to work a slow blues for maximum impact.
“Where You At”
On “Sugar Baby,” Christopher again puts out well-phrased guitar ideas, this time over a rolling-and-strolling groove that lets him get rhythmically creative. He also makes good use of space, giving each note he generates the room to come to life. Guitarists are notorious for overplaying but B. avoids that trap and keeps his lines snapping the right way.
Vocalist Boles returns on the hip-shaking “Who You Gonna Turn To Now.” The track sits on a snare drum-based pocket and spotlights Christopher’s flavorful slide guitar work. The way all of the musicians lock together and make this beat happen is one of life’s perfect things and it will definitely hit you in your down-low.
Other bright spots on Snapshots From The Second Floor include “Deep Dish Grit,” “Like A Fool,” and the final track “Smoke.” B. Christopher is someone who all guitar aficionados should be listening to. He brings a fresh sound to this thing of ours that’s entertaining and well-executed. You’re going to love what you hear.
The B. Christopher Band website