Blair Crimmins & The Hookers
New Rag Records
Sounding like an over-caffeinated descendant of Professor Harold Hill, Robert Preston’s beguiling con-man from The Music Man, Blair Crimmins & The Hookers give trad jazz and ragtime a kick in the keister and on Sing-A-Longs have created an infectious romp of a record. Crimmins, who handles the vocals as well as banjo, guitar, accordion, and piano on the disc, is an exuberant wag who somehow makes the jazz of the 1920s positively swing moderne, creating a sound that wouldn’t appear out of place alongside funky favorites such as the Rebirth Brass Band or Trombone Shorty.
“Run That Rabbit Down” would give any slick-talking rapper pause, with its break-neck tempo and Crimmin’s winning braggadocio, topped with a nifty Gypsy jazz guitar break. The Hookers handle the pomp of “The Krog Street Strut” or the jaunty jazz of “It’s All Over Now” flawlessly, with a devil-may-care lack of pretension that swings while still having a loving reverence for that which came before. On “It Don’t Have to Rain” they slow it down a notch, with Bernadette Seacrest and Crimmins in a duet that brings to mind the great Maria Muldaur on Richland Woman Blues.
By the time the record ends up with “State Hotel,” Blair Crimmins & The Hookers will make a jazzbo out of you. This ain’t your great-grandfather’s ragtime, and Blair Crimmins isn’t any quaint Dixieland revivalist. He’s a rock star — and Sing-A-Longs is a boisterous good time. Swing, Hookers, swing!