About Blinddog Smokin'
Based in Southern California, Blinddog Smokin' are a thoroughly modern 21st century blues band -- a good-time party band as indebted to the sleazy, slippery rhythms of funk as they are to slow-burning soul and juke joint blues. Blinddog Smokin' first formed in 1994 but they didn't find their way into the national spotlight until 2014, when they backed Bobby Rush on the Grammy-nominated Decisions, a project that helped push their 2015 album, High Steppin', to a greater audience.
Blinddog Smokin' had been gigging regularly for a full two decades prior to that mid-2010s breakthrough. Singer/harpist Carl Gustafson formed the first incarnation of Blinddog Smokin' with drummer/vocalist Chicago Chuck Gullens back in 1994, when they were both in Laramie, Wyoming. Over the years, the group has been more of a collective than a band, with Gustafson being the mainstay and other players rotating in and out. Junior Bacon -- born Roland Pritzker -- is another more recent mainstay, joining the band in 2003, and keyboardist Mo Beeks became a regular in 2009; guitarist Chalo Ortiz came aboard in 2013, by which time the band also had Chris White and Linda Gustafson as backing vocalists.
During this time, recordings came at a steady pace, all showing up on Crying Tone Records, and Carl Gustafson also blogged about his experiences leading the band, writing that helped form the basis of his 2010 memoir, Ain't Just Blues It's Showtime: Hard Times, Heartache and Glory Along Blues Highway. This book, combined with the ever-increasing crowds Blinddog Smokin' attracted, helped the band switch to Silver Talon Records in 2011, a move that helped increase their profile. Up from the Tracks was their first album for the label, showing up in 2011, and then in 2014 they supported Bobby Rush on Decisions. The record turned into a hit, earning a Grammy nomination for Best Blues Album, and Blinddog Smokin' capitalized on the success with their 2015 full-length, High Steppin'. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine