Rick VitoRick Vito – Cadillac Man
Blue Heart Records
Publicity: Blind Raccoon

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © March 2024

While listening to Cadillac Man – Rick Vito’s first release in five years – and reading about his accomplishments and credentials listed on the accompanying one sheet, I started thinking that not too far down the road, I just might be seeing his name – and the disc’s title – printed on all kinds of awards ballots. Notice that I said might, because we all know that’s not how it works – it’s what you hear, not what you read that matters. However, now that I have had time to hear all of the disc’s music, I honestly believe I can accurately say that I’m pretty sure I’ll be seeing Rick Vito and Cadillac Man printed on many 2025 awards ballots.

For the project, Rick Vito – on guitars, vocals, acoustic & electric bass, and percussion – is joined by: Jim Hoke on saxophones; Lynn Williams, Rick Reed and Charles “Mojo” Johnson on drums; Kevin McKendree on Hammond B3; Steve Marriner on harmonica; and Charlie Harrison on bass. Cadillac Man contains eleven original tracks and a cover of Sam Cooke’s “Just Another Day”.

On the disc’s opening track – “Love Crazy Baby” – it doesn’t take a whole lot more than the nearly one-minute-long guitar intro to realize why so many legends summon Rick to complement some of their own work. Along with more impressive guitar runs throughout, this shuffle features a strong rhythm coming from “Mojo” on the drums, Rick himself on bass, and Jim on various saxophones.

While award nominations are still on my mind, this is a good time to mention a smoker that has already won one – “It’s Two AM”. Back in 2001, this song was covered by Shemekia Copeland on her Wicked album, and it took home the “Song of the Year” trophy at what was then called The W.C. Handy Awards (now known as The Blues Music Awards). Off the top of my head, I can’t quite remember how her version went but hearing how good this one is, I now need to give Shemekia’s another listen. What some people may not realize is that by volume, the song of the year category contains more competition than any other category.

It might not be the same route but “Cadillac Man”, the disc’s title track, certainly has the vibe of rolling down a highway and getting your kicks. With a tank full of traveling bass lines and thunderous drumming, Rick and Lynn have the rhythm pedal to the metal; and with the Caddy smoothly tooling along at a smokin’ pace, Rick’s laying down some serious traveling music on guitar.

Probably because we’re such easy and willing prey, many songs have been written, and many tales have been told, of devilish and deceiving women tempting men with their evil and mysterious ways. Rick Vito’s version is about someone called “Little Sheba”. The track’s exotic and eerie musical arrangement – highlighted by Steve’s fabulous harmonica work – is the perfect accompaniment for its dark and dreary lyrics, making it one of the disc’s best produced tracks.

Having nothing to do with the title track, this one is also about a man – the one who stole Rick’s chick – and a Cadillac – the car that man was driving. As Rick tells it, while out in his Ford just cruising around, this guy in a Cadillac comes by and with just the wink of an eye, she was gone…”Gone Like A Cool Breeze”. There you have it, sometimes you’re the Cadillac Man and sometimes you’re not. Like the driver of that car, this swingin’ dance floor filler is slick; and like the car itself, it’s firing on all cylinders.

“You Can’t Stop A Guitar (From Playing The Blues)” is one of the best song titles I’ve ever heard… if only it were true. As a matter of fact, to plant a seed in every player’s head, those words should be written on every box that guitars are sold in. Being packed by a strong rhythm led by Kevin McKendree – the guy who’s B3 organ can’t stop playing the blues either – this is another of many great guitar and vocal performances from Rick.

The disc closes with an instrumental titled “Sliding Into Blue”. With Rick Reed (drums) and Charlie (bass) in a subtle rhythm groove behind him, Rick pretty much puts on a soothing, nearly four-minute-long slide guitar lesson. Taking into consideration that the words smoking, scorching and sizzling are more often used than soothing when describing a slide guitar solo, this performance was absolutely masterful.

Other tracks on Cadillac Man include: “Bo In Paradise”; “Crying At Midnight”; “Barbeque’n Queen”; “Just Another Day” (Sam Cooke); and “Rivers Calling”.
If you’ve not yet received a copy of Cadillac Man for airplay, please contact Betsie Brown at – www.blindraccoon.com – and should you like to find out more about Rick Vito, just go to – www.rickvito.com. Remember, wherever you go and whomever you speak with, please tell them their friend the Blewzzman sent you.

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