Raise Your Hands
Label: Severn Records
Release Date: October 16, 2015
Review Date: October 18, 2015
Raise Your Hands! is the first solo recording from former Blind Boys of Alabama guitarist Sam Butler. Produced by Brian Brinkerhoff (Guitar Shorty, Jazz Soul 7), the even-dozen tracks on Raise Your Hands! showcase the splendid talents of Butler, whose guitar work was a staple of The Blind Boys of Alabama for many years.
Sam Butler’s solo debut puts his own spin on an Americana compilation of bluesy spirituals written by some of the most important and compelling artists and songwriters of the last fifty years of rock and roll (Bruce Springsteen, U2, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Johnny Cash, Tom Waits, etc.), with some righteous results. Butler’s resume also includes work with Keith Richards, Steely Dan’s Donald Fagan and gospel legend Clarence Fountain, and he can currently be seen in the critically-acclaimed play, The Gospel at Colonus. On Raise Your Hands, Butler is joined by an impressive list of stellar musicians, including Sacred Steel virtuoso Roosevelt Collier, drummer Marco Giovino (Robert Plant, Tom Jones) and bassist Viktor Kraus (Lyle Lovett, Bill Frisell).
“I wanted to make a bluesy and rootsy album of spiritual songs originally performed by traditionally secular artists,” says producer Brian Brinkerhoff about the recording sessions. “Having been familiar with Sam’s roots and gospel work with The Blind Boys of Alabama and Clarence Fountain, I approached him with the idea and we quickly enlisted an A-list team of players to join Sam on this musical adventure. Esteemed Sacred Steel player Roosevelt Collier was an obvious choice to bring his lap steel virtuosity; and when Nashville’s first call rhythm section of drummer Marco Giovino and bassist Viktor Kraus became available, a dynamic three-day musical worship service of sorts took place in Nashville, with the results being Raise Your Hands!”
You can tell a lot by the company that one keeps. Following this logic, it’s clear that Sam Butler is an incredibly important and dynamic artist. When legendary Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards and his producer Steve Jordan wanted to add some truth to Richard’s 1989 solo album, Talk Is Cheap, they called on Sam to “moan” on a track. Steely Dan main man Donald Fagan was so moved by Sam's soulful stirrings and guitar playing in the much-lauded play, The Gospel at Colonus, he has been a collaborator, friend and fan of Sam’s for more than 20 years.
And of course, Sam worked for many years as the guitarist in The Blind Boys of Alabama, a position that he apprenticed for by accompanying his father, influential guitarist Samuel Butler Sr., on the road with The Blind Boys of Mississippi, beginning at the age of four.
Raise Your Hands! is a 12-song celebration that runs the gamut of energy and emotions - from the rollicking up-tempo to the quiet and introspective - and Butler delivers the performances of a lifetime. Raise Your Hands! will certainly make you do just that … and move your body and shout out loud! From Sam Butler’s lips to God’s ears.