The press release caught my attention when it crossed my desk. Songwriter/Guitarist/Singer Randy Kaplan has a new CD due out May 10th Shake It and Brk It for young adults. It will be the follow-up companion piece to his 2012 Nappa Gold Award winner Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie. Both albums find Mr. Kaplan, an accomplished guitarist/storyteller performing traditional blues tunes but with his own, more YA friendly, lyrics. The result of this mixture is a charming intro and journey through the annals of a truly American creation, the Blues.
The formula for this CD seems to have originated from the 2012 Mr. Diddie Wah Diddlie, which introduced Kaplan’s persona, Lightnin’ Bopkins, a nod to real-life Blues man Lightnin’ Hopkins, to young listeners. He would serve as our guide through the world of the blues, a YA troubador. It would be Bopkins, the listener would come to find, who would serve as the driving force behin d the 2012 entry, though we did find Mr. Kaplan to be the one, as Lightnin Bopkins would tell us, who would provide (Randy-ized) lyrics.
I am assuming this projects follows the same structure for this newest one. Either way, this CD is a fun little standard piece of Blues based material, which shows off Mr. Kaplan’s many diverse talents. From the very beginning, Randy’s guitar-picker, rambling troubador conjures up images of Bob Dylan circa 1962 in his 1961 Woody Guthrie best.
Best of all, parents can find as much enjoyment and learning in Mr. Kaplan’s work as their children.
Some of the high points I found –
Shake It and Break It begins with a charming “Randy-ized” version of Mississippi John Hirt country/blues ‘Candy Man.’ Mr. Kaplan’s guitar pickin’ style and Woody G uthrie talkin’ style singing gives the listener an authentic, starting point to the CD. Several times through the song, Randy starts sounding like early Bob Dylan, not a bad person to sound like.
Next up is Charley Patton ‘s Shake It and Break It. In recent times, Patton’s star has been unfairly eclipsed by Robert Johnson but a listen to Mr. Kaplan’s cover allows listeners to get a sense of Patton’s abilities.
Again, Kaplan’s guitar work gets the viewer in the mood and sets the scene. His feel for the instrument is authentic amd real. If I was to make a comparison, it would be with Jack White. Both come from that same spot in their musical souls.
Two of my personal come next, ‘Boogie Chillen’ and ‘It Hurts Me Too’ (Sitting On Top of the World.’) Kaplan goes full on John Lee Hooker for ‘Boogie Chillen’and by does he make that guitar purr as John Lee’s did way back when.
That quality is rare. It’s almost magical. That exactly sums up Randy Kaplan, his work in promoting the Blues to a new generation of listeners and most of all his music.