James Hinkle’s Some Day 


By Ken Shimamoto 

A longtime fave of Fort Worth audiences from the high-tone (Hip Pocket Theatre, Museum of Modern Art) to the lowbrow (the Keys Lounge, the Swing Club at Evans and Allen), local blues eminence and all-‘round goodtime papa James Hinkle hit his recording stride with 2005’s Straight Ahead Blues? – an homage to R&B obscurantism produced by ex-Fabulous Thunderbird/Leroi Brother Mike Buck and poet-blues Uberfan Wes Race – and followed it up a year later with Blues Now, Jazz Later, a showcase for Jime’s songwriting talent and burgeoning improvisational prowess produced by Lost Country mainman/ex-Juke Jumper Jim Colegrove. Now, with Some Day, Hinkle’s dropped his third ace album in a row. 

By now, Hinkle’s synthesis of influences is seamless. His singing is sly and worldy-wise, his guitar playing economical, inventive and fluid. He kicks things off with the Berryesque rock ‘n’ roll of “Ball and Chain” (with lyric-writing credits shared with his wife and daughter), follows it up with the late-night mellow groove of “Happy Accident,” essays a down ‘n’ dirty minor-key blues (the title track), and lays down some fonky Nawlins second line with “Mardi Gras Girl.” “Bitch On Wheels, with more lyrics by Hinkle’s wife Betsy and harmonica by his Austin podnah Ted Roddy, takes us back in time to West Side Chicago ca. ’65. (Betsy, who also collaborated with her hubby on the last CD’s standout toon, “I Hear Stories,” wields her pen like a straight razor. Watch out!) 

A couple of instrumentals are up next: bassist Jason Marchand’s slappin’ and poppin’ dominates the funkalicious “Remember Me Baby,” while the solo acoustic “Three-Legged Alligator” recalls Leo Kottke (or closer to home, Darrin Kobetich). The ruminative blues ballad “Fall of a Lifetime” hits these feedback-scorched ears like something Peter Green might have penned back in his Fleetwood Mac heyday, while another acoustic instrumental, “I Have No Idea” overlays a snaky slide line on a Louisiana swamp pop beat. “I Saw the Devil In Your Eyes Last Night” struts along with a chunky, Djangoesque swing before Hinkle wraps things up with a lovely ballad, “Slipping Back” (in the manner of Straight Ahead Blues?’s “When Did You Leave Heaven” or Blues Now, Jazz Later’s “That Was Then”). 

It’s nice to see Jime’s long-time sideman, ivory-tinkler Robert Cadwallader, finally getting featured credit on this CD. Robert’s classic barrelhouse piano and B3 organ sounds are all over this disc, and his tasteful backing and sprightly solos make him the perfect instrumental foil for Hinkle. Drummer Austin Allen’s another holdover from the previous outing and does yeoman work here. The production work – by Colegrove, with the set’s three most rockin’ tracks cut at Fort Worth Sound with Bart Rose twiddling the knobs – is up to the standards of the last two Hinkle CDs, which means it’s very good indeed. 

For my money, with Lady Pearl’s BTA Band seemingly sidelined since the closure of the Bluebird (again), Hinkle’s is the most legit blues game in town. He’s a muso with a direct connection to his sources, one who not only knows and respects the tradition, but is capable of adding to the canon on his own. He’ll join Colegrove’s “Cool Groove Review” – a veritable cavalcade of stars that also includes Lost Country, the reunited Juke Jumpers, and Wes Race backed by Sumter Bruton’s band “The Sumteranneans” -- at Arts Fifth Avenue this Saturday, July 12th. Show starts at 8pm and tickets are $15.