Ronnie Earl
Hope Radio DVD
Stoney Plain
By Bob Putignano

Blues Wax Rating 8
Reader Rating 8

Seeing Is Believing, (12/10/08)

In my CD review of Hope Radio I indicated that there would be a DVD release of Hope Radio, which would certainly rectify any and all of the negatives on the CD version that I had mentioned and, as predicted, this DVD does the trick! I've been a longtime fan of Ronnie Earl going back to when he took over for Duke Robillard in Roomful of Blues and more so throughout his solo career. I've seen him perform on numerous occasions and I am pretty certain that I have all of his CDs. For my listening ears, Earl stands nearly alone as one of the great guitarists of his time, both in Blues as well as any other musical genre. So when the Hope Radio Sessions DVD arrived at my door, I was ready for yet another uplifting musical performance from Mr. Earl.

A lot of what makes this well-recorded live recording great to watch and listen to is the fact that seeing Earl in person doing what he does so beautifully, transfers nearly perfectly to this DVD. There is a lot to like here, especially "Eddie's Gospel Groove" and "Bobby's Bop," which are both killer. So much so that I thought those two tracks set the tone of what was to come. I thought there was somewhat of a letdown during the Hope Radio CD, but not here. I am thrilled with this DVD as tracks like "Blues For The West Side," "I Am With You," "Wolf Dance," "Beautiful Child," and "Blues for Otis Rush" come to life. We can now view Earl doing what he does best, that being how he can take any of his songs down to a whisper and then explode his solos to a wild and mind-boggling frenzy. Experiencing this in person can make your hair stand up and the Hope Radio Sessions DVD corrects the elements missing from the Hope Radio CD; watching Earl perform is amazingly powerful and exciting.

Ronnie Earl is truly a special musician, the likes of which I never tire of seeing live. Over the years I have seen Earl with various incarnations of the Broadcasters literally destroy a room with his awesome power, exquisite tone, and superb control. He is truly a master of his instrument who plays from deep inside his soul. There are very few guitarists who can, in one passage, make you feel like you are speeding in a Ferrari and at other moments soothe your psyche. Ronnie Earl is definitely one of those rare and gifted artists.

In addition to several alternate performances of songs from the CD, the new Hope Radio Sessions DVD includes bonus footage that features Earl in a rare solo acoustic performance of "I Shall Not Be Moved," as well as a rare eleven-minute interview.

Kudos to the good folks from Stony Plain for releasing the Hope Radio Sessions DVD, as, unfortunately, Mr. Earl rarely tours making this is the closest that most fans will get to witness one of his electrifying performances. Can you say "Will there be a Volume Two? Let's hope so!

Bob Putignano

Bob Putignano
Radio Host WFDU's "Sounds of Blue"
President of the NY Blues and Jazz Society