Eugene Hideaway Bridges – Roots & Vines
17 Tracks – 67 minutes
Eugene ‘Hideaway’ Bridges (his moniker is a tribute to his father Hideaway Slim) is a genuine triple threat: he sings like Sam Cooke, plays guitar like BB King and is a prolific writer. For anyone not acquainted with Eugene this is an interesting place to start. As he turned 50 Eugene decided to record an album that pays homage to his influences as well as recording some originals with personal meaning to him. Born in Louisiana, this occasional Houston TX resident is a blues nomad, spending most of his time travelling between shows across the world. He is already well known in Europe and Australia but is starting to gain recognition in his native USA, having received a number of BMA nominations in recent years. This CD contains thirteen originals and four interesting covers. This stripped down CD was recorded in Texas (as have several of Eugene’s previous albums), with producer Pat Manske providing percussion, Lloyd Maines pedal steel, David Webb and Clayton Dooley keyboards. Eugene plays all guitar and bass parts and Ellie Bluebird & The Hill Country Handclappers add to one track.
It is difficult to know where to start in covering this generously filled CD but the covers may prove instructive. The album opens with Eugene alone with his guitar singing the traditional “Glory, Glory” which he explains in the most helpful sleevenotes was his earliest musical memory as his father was a preacher and this was the first piece of music he learned to play. You can feel the gospel truth for real on this version as Eugene whoops, hollers and stomps along with his guitar! Sam Cooke is name checked in some of the songs here but “Farewell My Darling” is a song that Sam did once record and is played as a testimony to the man who invented soul. Less obvious is “They Call The Wind Mariah”, a song that Eugene says he plays in his head on the road, another solo piece. “Wayward Wind” is a country classic, recorded first in 1956 by Gogi Grant and covered many times but Eugene brings his soulful voice to bear on it, making the comparison with Sam Cooke again inevitable.
The originals cover a wide range of styles from solo acoustic to a few full band productions. “Hold On” is a typical Eugene song, a catchy refrain, lovely vocals and fine instrumentation, notably David Webb’s piano. “Rise Above It” adds Eugene’s distinctive guitar stylings to the mix as Eugene sings of the need to lift yourself up in times of adversity. Many of these songs are aimed at celebrating life and none does that better than Eugene’s tribute to “Basil’s Bar” in the Caribbean where the owner has for years put on blues festivals to raise money for local educational charities. Much of Eugene’s repertoire concerns love and “A Thing Called Love” probably sums up his approach to life and love, a gentle song with the organ underpinning Eugene’s BB King styled guitar – “Love is something in which I do believe. Got nothing to hide, pretty baby, got nothing up my sleeve.” In similar vein lyrically is “I Will Still Be In Love With You” on which the pedal steel weeps behind Eugene’s superb voice. Showing his versatility, Eugene also gives us his homage to “the best truck I’ve ever owned” in “Nelly Bell”, a suitably fast-paced song. “How Long Will It Take” was inspired by T-Bone Walker and Eugene’s guitar certainly gets that T-Bone feel here. “17 Miles To Go” is just Eugene acapella with a stomp board, singing in gospel style with beautiful harmony vocals behind him.
This ‘back to basics’ album is excellent but if this is your first encounter with Eugene’s music do search out some of his earlier albums such as “Man Without A Home” (2000), “Coming Home” (2005) and “Live in San Antonio” (2009) where you will find Eugene in the company of a full band with horns. Keep an eye on this wonderful artist and catch him if he is in your area; he is the real deal.