Gene Deer is absolutely the most underrated Hoosier musical treasure still walking the Earth. As other Indiana blues acts get acclaim and success, Gene keeps it real, playing regular gigs at the Slippery Noodle, biker fests and inside seemingly every nook and cranny in the state that'll have him. Besides being one of the best guitar players in the state, Gene is a consummate showman, with every show featuring his brand of rocked-up blues and covers that range from Uriah Heep to Kiss to Leadbelly.
Last fall Gene was gifted a resonator guitar, one of these metal-fronted guitars favored by old-timey blues and country artists. Instead of playing it a few times and putting it away, inspiration struck and Gene ended up writing an entire album using this instrument. Deer's baritone voice fits right in with the resonator and what results is a varied album that not only celebrates the guitar, but also Gene Deer's talent. “When I Ride” is guaranteed to the be the hit of the next ABATE rally. “Ninety Days Blues,” “Driving Rain” and “70 Miles North Atlanta” are hands down the best blues songs recorded this year.
Gene is at his best when he puts one foot outside the blues and mixes in some sugar and pop. “Come With Me” puts so much more love, hope and optimistic vibes than your ordinary blues cut. “Listen To The Night” is hands down one Deer's greatest songs, with perfect singing, awesome guitar playing and the kind of homespun imagery that Mellencamp would kill for. It's a perfect feather in the cap for an unassuming, humble little record that is one of the best of the year.
Live at State Street Pub on Friday, August 19.