Born in Georgia in the late fifties, Tony Norton hasn't left behind his musical roots or his unmistakable friendly Southern drawl. Long a part of Fort Wayne's musical scene, Norton played for Nuthin' Fancy Band before becoming a founding member of the Continental Blues Band. Now to the delight of local blues fans Tony has completed his debut solo album of eleven original songs. While he plays most of the instruments on the album, a nice compliment of guest players share the spotlight and help make the disc more than one man with a guitar.
The album opens with "Some Things", a rolling, sauntering duet of a road song between Norton and Kevin Jackson (who also plays drums on this track) with Lee "Country Time" Lewis on bass. The wail of the harmonica (this reviewer is too white middle-class to have the credibility to call it a 'harp') played by Jim Rossington on "Memphis Train" evoke the timeless imagery of train travelů complete with an extensive harmonica solo. Speaking of solos, "A Woman's Love" begins and ends with extensive blues jamming by Tony and Kevin Smith on acoustic guitar. Switching from the "two-guitars" sound, the walking bass line of "I Love You So" introduces a full band sound, except Norton plays every instrument except drums which are handled capably by Roger Casio. Slide dobro guitars are the focus of "Rainy Day Dobro Blues", a brief instrumental that captures the feel of a wet southern afternoon porch jam session with lots of excellent picking and sliding. While most of the songs definitely are blue-based, the chorus of "My Horse Knows The Way", with John Mazza on bass, adds an exciting bit of mid-sixties rock to the mix. Possibly my favorite track is "Won't Be My Tears" which sports a memorable melancholy melody, some laid back solo work on the guitar and Tony's relaxed vocal drawl.
Nicely recorded and professionally packaged, One Time by Tony Norton is a wonderful addition to the collection of any blues guitar enthusiast. With lots of strong guitar work and effortless melodies, this debut release reflects the countless hours of stage time Tony has garnered with his past bands and is available now at Wooden Nickel Records.
This review first appeared in WhatzUp, January 2002.