In 1989, The Hitman Blues Band was born in the Big Apple and have recorded six studio albums and one live album.
I didn’t catch the train until Blues Enough (2013), their fourth CD and I’ve been a fan ever since. The band's first album, Blooztown, was released in 2000 on Nerus Records and re-released in 2001 on Biograph.
The album was recorded with Johnny Gale (Cyndi Lauper, Aaron Carter, M2M, Loudon Wainwright III, Dave Mason, Jules Shear, Hank Ballard, The Ramones, Joan Osborne, James Brown, Aaron Neville), Bobby Forester, Bernard Purdie and special guest Ray Alexander (on two songs).
This week their latest CD, Not My Circus, Not My Monkey, breaks — a captivating mixture of rollicking blues to slow-burn heartbreakers.
On a side note - “Not my circus, not my monkey” is an old Polish saying meaning “Not My Problem.”
Russell “Hitman” Alexander has been playing forever it seems, well actually since 16 — His father was a jazz musician. The New Yorker started doing a lot of cool covers, but was always writing too.
“We play what we call modern blues. It’s a combination of blues, jazz, and rock, but it’s all blues-based. I gave copies to a few people. What I’ve gotten is that it’s just been brought to a whole new level,” Russell said. “It’s still blues, but it’s a whole different level than what we’ve done before. Honestly, I’m not really sure what they’re talking about, but OK. Almost everything that I write is based on my own life. If they like it, that’s good.”
Three of the standout cuts are the title “Not My Circus, Not My Monkey,” the touching tribute to the place we go to “No Place Like Home,” and “John the Revelator” which was based on the traditional by Blind Willie Johnson.
“‘John the Revelator’ has been done so many times. They always stick to the same lyrics and the same general song. I was thinking what if John was sitting there in his cave writing the Book of Revelations and all the other gods just popped in and gave their own version of what the end of times is going to be like? So I wrote the lyrics like that. I had Buddha come by, and Odin, and Brahma. I like the way it came out,” Russell said.
There’s also a neat cover of Dylan’s “Times They Are A-Changin.’”
Hitman and the band can’t wait to get touring and push Circus to the limit. hitmanbluesband.com