Big Shot Reub and The Reloaders are out to shoot down the competition and blow away audiences everywhere. Big Shot Reub and The Reloaders are a San Diego-based band consisting of Reuben Vigil on guitar and vocals, Jodie Hill on bass and Ric Lee on drums. Vigil—the product of a musical pair of parents–explained that their talented trio is composed of musicians who originally belonged to other bands and “is a labor of friendship and getting my friends back to work.”
Their recently released, ten-track album, Roundhouse Blues, on the indie Hat and Case Music label, features original, multi-genre influenced blues. The disc was mastered by multi-Grammy-winning Charlie Watts (Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors) and produced by Glen Laughlin (Cherry Bluestorms, Dickies). The album opens on “So Much Inside Me”.
At first, your rascally reviewer thought Vigil had invited a lady friend of mine to sing a tell-all tune on his album but that is not the case. “So Much Inside Me” is a swing-laced song complete with vaguely Elvis Costello-influenced vocals. It is an effective introduction to the act and a nice tip of the hat to the likes of Louis Jordan, Wynone Harris and T-Bone Walker.
“Love’s Come Knocking” is a melodic cut that addresses the ideas of healing and where one puts his or her focus after a failed relationship. It is quickly overshadowed by “Viva Bracero”. This a Santana influenced, Latin-tinged track that concerns unskilled laborers said to have “helped rebuild America after the Great Depression”.
“Celestial” is a unique, spacey, piece that focuses on heavenly bodies (and not the kind in your randy reviewer’s readership!) It is somehow reminiscent of many musicians including Prince. It also reveals Vigil’s love of Jimi Hendrix as well.
“’C’” is the next number. While this instrumental is a great aural pallet cleanser one might wonder why Vigil included this work here. Is it just noteworthy filler or something more?
Vigil shed light on the issue: “In developing the concept and flow of Roundhouse Blues I drew on the album structure of the early Jeff Beck Group works. The first Jeff Beck Group works always included a great instrumental. ‘”C”’ is a tip of the hat to these early Jeff Beck works. ‘”C”’ is also a tribute to my Mother, Celia.”
The “Critic’s Choice” here is “Big Shot Roll”. This is an up-tempo piece which not only pays apt tribute to the genres from which it sprung but also somehow musically personifies the band. Indeed, this theme song is said by Vigil to be a tribute to “West Coast swing dancers that are an integral part of the San Diego blues scene”.
“I Don’t Drink” follows. Is this tune rationalization or romance? Perhaps it is a bit of both. Perhaps it really doesn’t matter because whatever the message the track works.
“Love Is A Memory” is one of the cuts that fails to get the same kind of press others on the album get. Why? “Time Was” also seems to have been shorted press and yet they both are further examples of both Vigil’s influences and the band’s abilities.
The closing cut is the apropos “Survive” and is as memorable as the above tracks. In the end, Vigil and company seem to blend blues, swing, rock and Latin elements into their own fresh yet familiar signature sound. In fact, if Big Shot Reub and The Reloaders keep it up, they may soon find that they will not only “Survive” but succeed.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.
(NOTE: Big Shot Reub and the Reloaders will be performing Saturday, June 2, 2012 at 6:00 pm at the Coyote Bar & Grill, Carlsbad, CA and at the 2012 Ensenada Rock and Blues Festival on Saturday, June 30)