Volker Strifler Band - An International Band

Amazon.com 2012

Eclectic, odd and joyous blues, March 10, 2012

4.0 out of 5 stars - VINE VOICE - Let The Music Rise

From the moment this album starts, the interplay of Volker's electrified slide guitar and the backing mandolin/trombone combo tells you that you are in for a strange ride. All of the music here is rooted in the blues, but the album is all over the map stylistically, and shows Strifler to be a true heir to Ry Cooder's legacy of recordings from the 1970's. Ry spends more time doing movie soundtracks and world music explorations these days, but Strifler shows the same kind of spirit Ry had in the 1970's when he used to mix-and-match various traditions of folk music into a strange amalgam that was somehow comfortable and familiar despite its oddity. Traditional blues, ragtime, R&B, jazz, Caribbean, country-- Strifler bounces back and forth between them all, with several stops in New Orleans along the way, but he never loses the blues feeling. Most importantly of all, the music is FUN. Despite Strifler's obvious familiarity with so many different traditions, he never comes across as even remotely academic, and despite his obvious debt to Ry Cooder, Strifler always sounds like his own man. The music has more of an edge to it that Cooder's did, and his slide technique owes more to Sonny Landreth than to Ry Cooder. Strifler isn't the jaw-dropping slide virtuoso that Landreth is (and he isn't Cajun), but his slide work, like his fret work, never fails to impress, and most importantly, it is always in service to the music. The odd horn arrangements are as much a focus as Volker's guitar. If you are an open-minded blues fan with broad tastes, and sick of people just trying to imitate dead masters, give this album a try.

Blues Revue

Tightly Meshed Crosscurrents - BluesWax Rating: 8

There’s much to write home about on Volker Strifler’s new release Let the Music Rise, and the timing is perfect for anyone’s Mardi Gras party. The pace is fast, often frenetic, sometimes raucous, but the mixture of instruments has the feel of controlled turbulence, drawing the listener into a whirlwind of tightly meshed crosscurrents. The German-born guitarist moved to the U.S. during his early 20s to get closer to the roots of blues. Here Strifler developed his skills fronting the Ford Blues Band, and has become increasingly popular on the Northern California circuit. He’s prone to long guitar meanderings, which when blended with keyboards, saxophone, and trombone, become innovative explorations into rock, jazz, and Latin rhythms. The occasional tuba part provides a very deep bottom, accentuating the brightness of the other instruments. Though this release is not long on blues numbers, it begins with an honest evocation of Sleepy John Estes’ “Going to Brownsville,” one of only two songs not written by Strifler. His slide playing is exciting, with a rough edge that adds depth. On this piece, and throughout the CD, the horns are always right there. “The Great Escape,” with its dramatic horn section and rockabilly guitar recalls an epic Western movie, while the album’s closer, “Hoogie Boogie,” will further delight fans of that genre, with a taste of Bill Kirchen’s “Hot Rod Lincoln.” “Redemption” is a fiesta of Latin rhythms, over which Strifler plays with the clarity and drive of Duane Allman. It’s more predictable, and therefore less appealing than other numbers. With the tuba prominent, “Jigsaw Puzzle Blues” presents another element of the variety inherent in this recording. Though it’s written by Fleetwood Mac’s Danny Kirwan, fans of Cab Calloway’s “Minnie the Moocher” will feel at home here. There’s more slide blues on the track “Let the Music Rise,” once again with an Allman-esque flavor, after Strifler opens with the guitar plucking of a Keb’ Mo’ country-blues tune. “It’s Getting Late,” about a man who’s “contemplating original sin” while “on a date with a bottle of gin,” switches gears again, going honky tonk with an added element of the good-time laziness of John Sebastian or Jesse Colin Young. Straight-ahead rock ‘n’ roll, Tommy Castro-style, turns jazzy on “Last Night I Had a Dream,” which, like several other songs, has a theme of hitting the road (“The fruit is always sweeter right across the fence.”) It’s the rhythms that matter on this album. All the elements –blues, jazz, Latin, rockabilly – work extremely well except for the rock ‘n’ roll, which breaks the flow, seeming tired and formulaic. During the vocals, the instruments hover in the background, restless to break in. Though the influence of other artists is evident here, the whole is larger than the sum of its parts. If you’re looking for fresh aural stimulation, Let the Music Rise may get you there.

Robert Feuer is a contributing writer to BluesWax and Blues Revue.

CMC 88.1 FM

Review by Steven "Nick" Nickelson of Volker Strifler Let The Music Rise

Although this is the third cd release by German-born Volker Strifler, he and his band have been playing blues, jazz, fusion, rock & roll for many years. The first cut ("Going To Brownsville" - originally written by Sleepy John Estes) is arranged in a Memphis style by Volker. I have read that he is a producer/arranger extraordinaire, and I cannot quibble with the experts - at least according the this cut. And herein, the horns in the arrangement make all the difference, as well as Volker's hollow-body riffs. The next cut ("The Great Escape") really brings back some deeply buried memories. Some people compare Volker Strifler to Duane Allman; however, this cut here clearly is more evocative of Duane Eddy. The same comparison holds for track ten ("Hoogie Boogie") - this guy can really make an arpeggio riff sound as if it is taking flight!! I just cannot mention enough the sheer brilliance of the songwriter and arranger. This guy (Volker Strifler) is a musical genius! The third cut ("Redemption") takes a little side trip from Memphis to New Orleans for this and the next little Blues ditty ("Jigsaw Puzzle Blues"). Speaking of Blues - the next cut ("Wait A Minute") is a virtual trip down South jukin', as is the title cut ("Let The Music Rise"). Keepin' it real in the ole South, the band takes us on a trip to Beale Street ("It's Getting Late"). The only description I can come up with for this next cut is velvet hammer ("Last Night I Had A Dream"), for the smooth and easy segue from the hammerin' intro, as well as the velvet smooth playing of the whole band. The penultimate cut starts off with a hauntingly finger-picked solo, and leads to a full-blown rock & roll cut. Although this cd needs a few listens to stick, I have no hesitation in giving this the Nick's Picks seal of approval. And that's my two nickels' worth........................Nick

WYCE Music Journal http://www.grcmc.org/radio/music.php

Vintage Guitar

His Own Blues

Volker Strifler is best known for his affiliation with the Ford Brothers, acting as their guitarist, and also working on projects with various members of the family, including Robben. With Let The Music Rise, he takes a big step to move out of the Ford shadow. While this would be filed under Blues, Strifler’s mastery of various forms of music makes it an eclectic mix of tunes. He shows an affinity for New Orleans funk on several cuts, including the opener, “Going to Brownsville.” His slide, as it does on many cuts on the record, glides effortlessly around the vocals, before a funky solo with a deep, sweet tone drops in. Country blues makes several appearances, with the title cut finding Strifler handling Dobro duties before his slightly distorted slide solo turns it into a stomping electric boogie. Stomp, boogie, and country blues drive the instrumental “Hoogie Boogie.” A solo that could easily be full of clichés is exactly the opposite; octaves, chromatic licks, rock and roll, and well-placed 6th chords give the song a feel that wouldn’t occur to most guitarists. “Last Night I Had a Dream” is a spacey, minor-key rock-blues that lets Strifler show off a jazzier side. Before it’s over, he even manages to give a tip of the guitar cap to his old bandmate, Robben. Nine of the 10 songs here are written by the German-born guitarist, and he shows a knack for taking a familiar form of music and making it interesting. The chord changes are not lazy, and the instrumentation adds an element many blues records don’t. That’s especially true on several cuts that feature a horn section, including some fine tuba playing by Ed Ivey on “Jigsaw Puzzle Blues,” an instrumental with a jug band feel that features Strifler on both slide and standard soloing. Volker’s singing is not the kind that draws you right in, but repeated listening makes you aware that his soulful, on-the money vocals are just what each of these songs needs. Let The Music Rise is testament to the fact that there are players out there who are triple threats musically who don’t always get the recognition they deserve. – John Heidt

pg 108 Vintage guitar July 2012 Vintageguitar.com

Comments By Other Artists

ROBBEN FORD - Volker Strifler is a beautiful guitarist and a powerful singer. He is also a wonderful songwriter in the blues genre, which is an important contribution in keeping the blues vital. I'm sure after you hear this recording you will be a Volker Strifler fan. I know I am.

LOWELL FULSON - Man, that guy can really play his box!!!

CHRIS CAIN - Volker is the real deal. I love this guy.

AllMusic.com 2007

www.AllMusic.com - JAN.07 all music website

The Ford Blues Band guitarist steps center-stage for his second solo album and the impressive results show he should consider leading his own band full-time. Since The Dance Goes On was recorded in Germany and California with musicians from both locales, Volker Strifler connects his disparate influences into a seamless whole. His hollow body solos are as impressive as you'd expect, but it's his voice that is the real revelation here. He sings in a confident but not brash style that perfectly suits the horn-infused blues, R&B, surf and soul that dominate this release. Although the project is blues based, it is not like the straight-ahead Chicago blues favored by his other band. There are only two covers and they are both from the Willie Dixon-by-way-of-Howlin' Wolf songbook; an acoustic "Evil" -- the album's only entirely unplugged tune -- and a lowdown version of "Spoonful." They are placed next to each other in the mid-section of the disc as sort of a detour to the more soul influenced bulk of this material. Tunes such as the horn driven "Somebody Help Me" and "Downtown Living" are Memphis-styled R&B with chunky backbeats and Strifler's husky vocals bringing the emotion. "On a Day Like Today" and "Angel" are the album's primary singer/songwriter tunes. They effortlessly shift from acoustic to electric then back again, showing Strifler's talents also extend to arrangements and writing quality melodies. Although most tracks feature solos, the songs are not built around them and could stand on their own without Strifler's tasteful leads. Two instrumentals, "Constantine" and "Shuffelupagus" let the guitarist stretch his chops. The former finds him in reverbed spaghetti western territory while the latter is an album-closing jazzy shuffle with a slight Wes Montgomery feel. It wraps up a tremendously satisfying, eclectic and often surprising collection which shows that the quadruple-threat artist (guitarist, songwriter, vocalist and producer) might eclipse the Ford Blues Band in popularity if he chooses to make this side project a permanent gig.

Blues Review Magazine 2007

Michael Cala - THE DANCE GOES ON - Blue Rock'It 142

The Dance Goes On, the latest release by Germany's Volker Strifler Band, is a sonically refined evocation of American vernacular music. Strifler penned every track except Willie Dixon's "Evil and "Spoonful," and listening to those two frequently covered tunes is a good way to get a feel for Strifler and company's considerable capabilities. The arrangement of "Spoonful" takes advantage of Strifler's Robert Cray-like slide work, single-string licks, and soulfully expressive high tenor voice, which he employs in eerie minor-key harmony with his guitar. The counterpoint of Roland "Chip" Condon's piano and Carl Bower's trumpet (trombone) give the song an interpretation rarely received from either American blues bands or British blues-rockers.

The rockabilly-inflected "Wake Up" brings the horns out front while highlighting Strifler's excellent guitar. The other tunes are complexly arranged, and their textures set the disc apart from the work of musicians who lack vision. Strifler's approach suggests that of master interpreters like John Mayall and great Chicago blues players of the ‘60s such as Nick Gravenites, Corky Siegel, and Barry Goldberg. Like Mayall's best work, the tunes harbor a hint of darkness and boast an arresting musical intricacy.

The group is confident enough to explore a wide variety of styles: "Sometimes I Wonder" sounds like Memphis Horn arrangement of a mid -'50s R&B ballad, while the instrumental "Shuffelupagus" turns to classic jump blues with horns and Hammond organ front and center. As on the other Strifler penned tunes here, maturity and polish make the song sound as if it's been around for years. Here's hoping the band maintains its personnel and continues to make music at this rarefied level.

Volker Strifler Review Aug. 2007

Music City Blues Society Aug. 2007

Volker Strifler is one of Northern California's premier blues talents. He's played with Robben Ford as well as fronted his own band, and is an outstanding guitarist and writer. The Blue Rock'it label has released "The Dance Goes On," which solidifies Volker's reputation in contemporary blues.

With this set, Volker also combines his German bandmates with their stateside counterparts. The result is a sizzling package of blues that's mixed with a little rock, jazz, and soul, with a taste of the Delta just to let everyone know it's still the blues! Eleven of the cuts are originals, another feather in Volker's hat. The horn section punches up the leadoff title cut and the outstanding "Soul Salvation," giving them a STAX-like vibe. "Constantine" is an excellent instrumental that has some jazzy, flamenco-styled overtones, while "Sometimes I Wonder" digs deeply into solid slow-blues territory.

We had two favorites, too. A rockabilly-fired "Wake Up" has some blasting guitar backed by Chip Roland's mean left-hand boogie on the piano. And, one of only two covers on the set, "Evil," is quite different from Howlin Wolf's version, as it is only Volker and his National Steel. It's raw and haunting, and conjures up that fabled crossroads as soon as you hear it.

Volker Strifler may not be northern California's best-kept secret for much longer. Give a listen to "The Dance Goes On" and see for yourself!! Until next time.....Sheryl and Don Crow.

Two Rock Amplification


Volker Strifler remains one of northern California's most exciting and talented guitar players. His first CD, Volker Strifler Band, drew praise and critical acclaim from both blues musicians and blues publications alike. On this CD, Volker takes his musicianship and song-writing skills to another level. 'The Dance Goes On' shows Volker's deep understanding of the blues traditions. If you are a Volker Strifler fan, you will not be disappointed. For Volker, the long-awaited CD is a personal achievement because it combines his bands from Germany and the United States. Truly, this CD is a "global" one, one that shows Volker is well on his way to greatness.

"This CD is the realization of a dream I have had for a long time: to bring together the musicians I work with on two continents. I am grateful to all of them for sharing their talents and friendship with me to make this project happen. Special thanks go out to Patrick Ford, the staff at Prairie Sun, K&M Analog Design, Harry Cale at Route 44 Studios, Andrew, Brent, and John at Georgetown Masters, and�to everyone who supports live music everywhere." �- Volker Strifler

Two Rock Amplifiers

Mark E. Gallo May 2007

Mark Gallo Blues Byte

The Volker Strifler Band's The Dance Goes On (Blue Rock'It) should appeal to a large American audience. Though the German guitarist and vocalist is highly regarded in his homeland, it's his connection to the Ford Brothers' Butterfield/Bloomfield Project that is helping to spread his name far and wide.

One of my favorite releases of the year, it's as impressive lyrically as it is musically. Check out "Somebody Help Me" --- "People pushing shoving me around and the taxman is a major pain/pencil pushing geeks like slimy little maggots eat their way from my wallet to my brain." This is a major cat.

Outside of a pair of Willie Dixons, the songs are all his and all impressive. That he's a killer guitarist with a superb voice adds to the overall appeal of this gem of a disc. Recorded in Germany and the US, this is the work of a master musician. www.volkerstrifler.com

Mark E. Gallo Blues Bytes, May 2007

Real Blues Magazine 2004

Real Blues Magazine - January 2004

Pat Ford of Blues Rock'It is totally flipped out over his discovery and I must say that speaking from experience, Pat knows talent and potential when he hears it. And now that we've got an opportunity to finally hear Volker we can say yes, this is one heck of a debut and the talent level is at a place where few veteran blues artists ever reach. Volker is a stunningly unique and creative guitarist whose sense of melody transcends all genres and curiously I can easily imagine him being a big-time star in the 1970s thanks to more than a trace of retro blues rock (Mick Abrahams/Danny Kirwan) to go with lots of modern ace influence (Stevie Ray/Robben Ford) and more than a bit of jazz (Freddie Robinson/McLaughlin). But what sticks out more than any other influence is Texas guitar and one has to be totally impressed by "I Smell Trouble" and "Moving On." "I Smell Trouble" is done at a totally different tempo and arrangement and the slowing down of it actually adds to the fire and intensity. Thirteen tracks in total and eleven are original and the balance between jazz/rock/blues fusion and Texas-style heavy guitar is pretty well balanced with the opener, "Doggin' It" sounding like it's right out of the Chris Duarte songbook and track #2 "Never Like This Before" has a second line rumba-rhythm with dancing slide work and track #4, "In Your Arms" is similar in that respect. Volker's vocals are smooth and relaxed and better than most and he does well in the tunesmith department with songs such as "All Mighty Dollar." "JPB" is one of those super-cool Hammond organ/guitar workouts that no one ever gets tired of. A track that seems inappropriate at first glance is Hoyt Axton's "Never Been To Spain" but Volker turns in a stellar performance on guitar/vocals. Guest Tony Lufrano lays down excellent Hammond organ throughout and the combination of Volker's (on "JPB") picking and Tony's slick B-3 work make for a potent 1-2 punch that has to be heard to be appreciated. "Heard It On The News" is the cat's meow in cool jazz/blues fusion with great cymbal tapping work from Stefan Bullock, walking bass from Claus Bubik and Volker and Tony supplying truckloads of superb organ and guitar. "True Blue Thing" has a 1950s feel to it but with Volker doing an over-the-top Johnny Watson-like string-popping thing that's so nice I played it four times in a row. I don't know how old Volker Strifler is or where he's been, but I get the feeling he's been listening to all the right stuff and wood shedding a long, long time. This CD (Volker Strifler Band) is a real treat and very tasty debut for an artist who's got lots to share. And, as usual for Blue Rock'It, sound, production and performance are peerless. With the winning combination of talent, creativity and total listener enjoyment (it's too easy to be self-indulgent) we must award Volker's one-of-a-kind debut 5 big bottles and expect him to rise to the top on the West Coast circuit.

A. Grigg

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