The Nick Moss Band featuring Dennis Gruenling: Get Your Back Into It! Review

Chess Records, Maxwell Street, Checkerboard Lounge, Home Run Inn are all legendary names associated with Chicago’s South Side and where the roots of Chicago electric blues were sown. The blues scene in the windy city originated with the great migration of the 30s and 40s as African Americans left the poverty and oppression of the South for opportunity in the industrializing North. Along with them came the blues. Muddy Waters amplified the guitar in 1947 and would add a second guitar, upright bass, piano, drums, and harmonica and/or saxophone to the mix. Other Chicago blues innovators include Howlin’ Wolf, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, and Willie Dixon.

I open with this little history lesson as it is the perfect backdrop for the sound that Chicago native Nick Moss and longtime friend Dennis Gruenling bring to our present-day ears with Get Your Back Into It! blending in Texas and West Coast influences with a more upbeat pacing, deliver their signature to this crafting of the Chicago Blues sound. Get Your Back Into It! follows 2018’s The High Cost Of Low Living and 2019’s Lucky Guy all released on Alligator Records.

Taylor Streiff (piano and keyboards), Rodrigo Mantovan (upright & electric bass and percussion), Pierce Downer (drums) and “Sax” Gordon Beadle (saxophones) round out the band. They deliver a big band sound that at times resembles noisy Chicago traffic with Gruenling’s harp providing the complimentary first responder sirens with the title track “Get Your Back Into It” and “The Bait in the Snare” and at others bring a jazzy smile to Count Basie’s ghost with “Out of the Woods” and “Man on the Move”. The album overall has a playful side to it with tongue in cheek play on French with “Aurelie,” ode to the stand-up bass “It Shocks Me Out,” Dennis’ “Your Bark Is Worse Than Your Bite,” and a little coo coo Rakha on the instrumental “Bones’ Cantina.” The last two tracks on the album bring both elements together as you cannot get anymore Chicago blues than “The Solution” and anymore playful than the surf rockabilly “Scratch ‘N’ Sniff.”

Being a former Chicago resident and ardent blues lover, I may stray on the side of bias as Nick, his band, and Dennis’ harp bring back warm memories of an otherwise frigid, rough city filled with great people. Those elements make for a great breeding ground for edgy old school blues. I have no regrets; this is a damn good album!

The Review: 8/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Get Your Back Into It
– It Shocks Me Out
– The Solution
– The Bait in the Snare
– Scratch ‘N’ Sniff

The Big Hit

– Get Your Back Into It

Buy the album: Amazon

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