Blair Crimmins & the Hookers
You Gotta Sell Something!
New Rag Records
On their fourth studio album You Gotta Sell Something! , Blair Crimmins & the Hookers proves yet again that it’s impossible to write a sad song on a banjo. Take “I’m Gone” where the protagonist’s tale of woe is set to a snappy gypsy jazz guitar part, or Storyville-era sound-alike “Top Of The Class”, where a jumping trumpet pattern accents Crimmins’ slightly bawdy lyrics.
Blair Crimmins is an enigma, a man possessed by ragtime music, creating a sound that wouldn’t sound out of place on a bandstand with Louis Armstrong in New Orleans, or wielding a Selmer guitar with Django Reinhardt and Stephan Grappelli in the Hot Club of Paris in the ’30s. But he’s no mustached Dixieland re-enactor, far from it. He’s just taken the classic genres and influences of our musical past and brought them into the 21st century. And they suit just fine. Take “You’re A Pain”, which sounds as if someone invited a banjo into a brass band, or the rowdy instrumental “Hot Damn!”, which are so infectiously joyous you can’t listen without a smile breaking across your face.
The record concludes with “Gypsy Lullaby”, where Crimmins sings us a goodnight song, but you probably just want to start the album over, because You Gotta Sell Something! is sorta compulsive. I’m sold!