Anthony Geraci may daydream in blue, but when night falls, all kinds of colors come tumbling out of his piano. He’s firmly rooted in blues, an original member of Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters as well as Sugar Ray and the Blu-tones. His pedigree includes session dates with blues biggies from Odetta to Charlie Musselwhite to Kenny Neal and Duke Robillard.
But for his latest outing, Daydreams in Blue, he’s got wandering fingers, poking around in a bunch of genres. “Tomorrow Never Comes” is newly minted swamp pop, an original ’50s throwback tune that channels the hands of Fats Domino and the tonsils of Bobby Charles, courtesy of harpist/vocalist Dennis Brennan, who handles most of the vocals on the disc.
But Geraci doesn’t meander around in the past for long, letting Walter Trout pull him out of the swamp and wrap him up in coils of electrified barbed wire plugged into a juke-joint socket that has him hollerin’ and cryin’ for mercy on “No One Hears My Prayers.”
Despite the Little Richard tagline, “Tutti Frutti Booty” is more jump blues than rock, blending a smidgen of Fess’ calypso rhythms with great chunks of barrelhouse piano for a sweaty gallop across the dance floor.
Geraci slow-grinds his way through “Mister,” Brennan’s prickly, piercing harp poking him in the side as he tries to stroll off into the sunset. “Hard to Say I Love You” sounds like a tribute to Mose Allison, uptown blues rendered in a joint classy enough that the walls don’t sweat so much it warps the piano.
Geraci runs some more class through his fingers on his cover of Billy Eckstine and jazz pioneer Earl “Fatha” Hines’ 1941 classic “Jelly, Jelly,” a tinkly ode to too much of a good thing. Hines’ original was a bit smoother, more suitable for a ballroom, while Geraci’s version would be OK for a joint that thought it had class cause the patrons didn’t break up the furniture and throw it at the band.
But when it’s time to get down and wallow in misery, “Crazy Blues/Mississippi Woman” digs the groove deep and muddy. “Walked to the icebox / nothin’ but spoiled milk and stale bread / Guess I’ll keep on walkin’ / till I walk myself to death,” Brennan intones sorrowfully while Monster Mike Welsh’s guitar slices up the bread and Geraci splatters that milk all over the room.
Multilayered goodness that travels well, Geraci and Brennan’s latest is a spread fit for a four-star establishment that you could pack up and enjoy just as well in a low-down smoky dive.