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Marty Stokes | Pick up the Phone

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United States - Florida

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Blues: Guitar Blues Blues: Slide Guitar Blues Moods: Featuring Guitar
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Pick up the Phone

by Marty Stokes

Blues guitarist returns with blazing riffs and wailing slide, presenting fresh material that sticks to the wall, amassing momentum from start to finish. Guest artist JP Soars and more.
Genre: Blues: Guitar Blues
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Pick up the Phone
4:13 $0.99
2. Take a Little Time
5:43 $0.99
3. Sink or Swim
5:32 $0.99
4. Livin' the Blues
4:42 $0.99
5. Low Flyer
4:10 $0.99
6. Pay My Dues
5:11 $0.99
7. Down Like a Man in Love
4:55 $0.99
8. Whiskey Drinkin' Woman
4:43 $0.99
9. Do You No Harm
3:57 $0.99
10. Morning Train
4:04 $0.99
11. Tumble
4:38 $0.99
12. I Found a Love
3:52 $0.99
13. Inside the Bottle
3:02 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
As the old saying goes: third time’s the charm. With the release of their third full-length CD, Pick Up The Phone, The Marty Stokes Band builds upon their growing collection of virtuosic blues compositions. Following the 2009 debut, Hear You Callin’ , and their sophomore album, Leavin’ Blues (2012), the band’s newest (and first apostrophe-free) album, proves the old cliché still holds true in 2016.
Returning with a familiar cast of musicians, The Marty Stokes Band provides a unique take on the time-tested blues structures. The band’s core is comprised of Daryl Best on bass, Carveth Clauson playing set, Jennifer Mazziotti shredding on tenor sax, and finally Stokes himself on electric and acoustic. The ensemble manages to build a sound that is both technically tight and energetically passionate. The group wrangled additional help from singer Summer Kilgore Mendez, percussionist Chris Peet, and cigar-box strummer J.P. Soars to round out the fun-loving experience. Mixed by John McLane, and in collaboration with the magnanimous Lakehouse Records and Publishing, the resulting product Pick Up The Phone can only be described as bonafides ’n’ bluesy.
Each and every song on Marty Stokes’ thirteen-track album exhibits a particular musical wisdom that can only be learned through a lifetime of blues. The guitar-driven tunes are smoothly sculpted with all the tools familiar to practiced blues musicians. Crunchy, opening electric riffs? Yup. Pulsing, twelve-bar structure? You bet. Thoughtful, lamenting lyrics? Oh yeah. In all regards, The Marty Stokes Band casually invokes the essential blues tricks with ease, but that’s not all. Like any artist with a knowing mastery of their sound, Marty Stokes imbues his genre with unique twists and contortions.
Take “Low Flyer” for example. The album’s fourth track fuses traditional electric blues structure with funk rhythms and counter-melodies. While a more inexperienced blues musician might struggle to wrap the soul-driven “Low Flyer” into a formulaic blues package, The Marty Stokes Band excels at adapting their creative output to synthesize a refreshingly innovative sound—the unapologetic indulgence of plain, ‘why-the-hell-not’-type fun resonates from their collective breadth of seasoned musicianship.
Primarily, Marty Stokes manages to cross genres because of the ensemble’s unique instrumentation. Both bass and lead guitars set the pervading blues foundation, but the group’s use of saxophone, organ, and background vocals allow the songs some breathing room genre-wise. Listeners are treated to tailgate saxophone responses straight out of the traditional jazz textbook on “Tumble”, only to hear the same horn player lay down multi-tracked—dare I say, Springsteen-esque—hits on the next song, “I Found A Love”.
The album’s stylistic range continues to impress, with “Down Like A Man In Love” invoking a melancholy gospel, complete with background choir, in a piece that can only be described as soulfully blue. This is why, ultimately, Pick Up The Phone seems to amass momentum from start to finish—The Marty Stokes band don’t just play the blues. They play blues with personality. Some of the songs lament an irreconcilable loss, while others soar with transcendent freedom from sorrow. For this project, Stokes contemplates the ‘how’ of blues. Sure, it’s one thing to feel the blues, but this album is best listened to with a critical ear; the lingering question proposed is ‘how are you blue’, and provides a build-your-own buffet selection of blues.
Moreover, the album itself can be interpreted as a musical invitation, of sorts. Consider the title: Pick Up The Phone. The sentiment by itself functions as a simple request to listen, and not just to the music, but to your own personal blues. Which of these thirteen tracks align with your shade of blue? Throughout album there are several invocations to simply listen to the music being played. In the song “Tumble”, we hear Stokes sing “won’t you answer my call/ I’ve been out here so long/ backed up against the wall”, which, if we assume is a direct inquisition to the listener, can be understood as a Siren-like call, just to hear and empathize with the feeling expressed via blues. Additionally, the titular track “Pick Up The Phone” builds dynamically around the focal point of the saxophone. Then metaphorically, Stokes invites the listener to do more than simply listen; picking up the saxophone would entail joining in on the music. The Marty Stokes Band celebrates all that is good in the world of music, inviting audiences to listen like players, and playing like just another pair of ears in the crowd.
Perhaps by hearing such a sweeping range of blues, the listener might understand that blues is a subject of temporality. That is to say, the blues we feel changes daily, from moment to moment—a certain feeling synthesized by a certain time in a certain place. So then if the means of blues is this fluid force, maybe the only way to express our sadness or happiness or whatever unique shade of blue happens to set in for the day, is, like Stokes advises, to pick up the ‘phone and play.

JEREMY LESSNAU - Music Critic and Writer



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