Ron Tanski plays boogie-woogie piano and other forms of blues passion as he sings a melancholy dozen that fill the room with emotional ties. His guy-next-door approach gives you the feeling that you’ve known him for years. As he sings, you could swear he was out back this morning talking to the neighbors. Ballads send a heartfelt message, action-romps keep the senses aware, and Tanski’s blues moans ring true. His songs are original, his driving piano masterful, and his veteran vocal attack remains both creative and resourceful. As an “average Joe” at the corner bar or as a feature attraction at one of Los Angeles’ hottest night spots, Tanski fits the pattern like white on rice.
Based here in the Southland, he’s worked and toured with blues greats Osee Anderson and the late J.J. “Bad Boy” Jones. Songwriting rates high on his list of ventures, and he shows here that his imagination runs deep. “Where Were You When I Was Still Cheatin’,” a slow moanin’ blues, gives the session its characteristic melancholy. Then the album’s title track, “Dragged You Down,” comes along hip and bright, giving an aura of Mardi Gras celebration. Guest Andrew Hiestand’s fiery guitar interlude on the latter song adds considerable energy. “Down to the River” carries a slower blues texture that represents a hundred years of the same, while faster, rhythmic thrills such as “Hurrican Boogie,” the session’s lone instrumental number, give off a different meaning. Fast or Slow, sad or happy, Ron Tanski makes you feel right at home with the blues.
When a song starts with ‘it’s a marvelous night..’ I shudder at the thought of hearing ‘for a moondance’! Fortunately Mr. Tanski does NOT go there. Where he does go is deep into the cigarette tainted, whiskey primed world of piano blues.
His opening number ‘Marvelous Night For The Blues’ is an upbeat call to arms for him and his baby to ‘go downtown and throw a little cash around’ stating outright that if they don’t play they both gonna blow a fuse. This release contains twelve original songs by Mr. Tanski, and he performs solo on all but three of them.
A superbly versatile player, he can boogie-woogie with the best of them, as shown in ‘Hurricane Boogie’ , and then proceed to take us way down in the alley with ‘Never Have Another Chance With You’ and then stroll through the double entendre ‘Cookieman’ with aplomb and all seriousness. As a chef I can attest to cravings for a nice warm cookie, while still appreciating all the other kinds of sweets that are available. In spite of it’s church like start, the title cut ‘Dragged You Down’ has sheer rocking energy and a killer guitar solo from Mr. Andrew Hiestand, as Ron apologizes with tongue in cheek to his put upon partner (ending with the line “… gonna put you back on the streets’.)
There is a strong hint of Tom Waits here, but ‘Mr. T’ is not that dark and foreboding, he makes us all very comfortable with the blues and in turn we become voyeurs to his journey all the while staying safe with our headphones on and a drink in our hand... chefjimi
Volume 16, Number 2
It's not often that an independent, self-released CD has me saying "Wow!" But Southern California pianist Ron Tanski has done just that with his new album, Dragged You Down. All 12 cuts are Tanski originals, and he performs solo on all but three of the numbers on the disk. With a voice that sounds like it's conditioned by drinking rotgut liquor and smoking unfiltered cigarettes, Tanski has a style reminiscent of Tom Waits, although not as dark and foreboding.
Dragged You Down starts strongly with a good introduction to Tanski's abilities with the uptempo "Marvelous Night For The Blues"; I especially like the work of his left hand on the piano's lower keys.
The comparison to Tom Waits holds up on the gritty tale "Corner Booth" and on the slow blues "Where Were You When I Was Still Cheatin'."
Even the best gravelly-voiced singers start to wear on my after a while, but Tanski changes the mood with the only instrumental number, the frenetic "Hurricane Boogie." For my money, it's the best cut on the disk and leaves me wanting to hear more of the same. He really is a very fine piano player, and I look forward to a whole album of instrumentals some day.
Another highlight is the slow number "Sun Don't Shine," which comes two cuts after the instrumental boogie woogie and provides a nice contrast to the preceding songs; it's a blues but with a outlook that better days are ahead. Closing the CD is a tune, "Thank You," that sounds like it could have come out of the Randy Newman songbook; Tanski's piano playing here has a little bit of a gospel feel to it.
Dragged You Down is a real surprise, and I look forward to hearing more from Mr. Tanski. Check his website for more info on how to find this CD or to find out where he's playing, --- Bill Mitchell
April 4, 2011
Ron Tanski - Dragged You Down - 4 Stars
This album was a little surprising, never expecting Ron Tanski’s vocals to turn down a musical path reminiscent of the legendary Louis Armstrong. His rich, blues vocals along with his unique piano style bring each of the twelve self-penned songs to life. Although a sparse production with all but three songs being piano/vocal, his voice captivates and dominates and puts a new spin on an old style with a little bit of jazz, some boogie woogie and a whole lot of blues. Nice.
Ron Tanski is a fast rising new voice in the Blues and Roots scene. Without following the same old Blues formula Ron’s debut CD pays homage to the past but uniquely forges a new direction in the Blues. The music explodes off the disc with lightning fast piano riffs, glistening melodies, soulful tunes and a voice you have to hear to believe. With intensity normally only seen in guitarists, Ron’s live performances leave crowds breathless and his CD does the same. Twelve original songs, that cover the whole Blues and Roots Americana spectrum, from Boogie to Deep Blues, from Gospel to tales of murder, take the listener to seedy bar booths, and places of redemption. Ron’s emotionally charged, ragged and yet sensitive, gravel and gin soaked voice has been described as Louis Armstrong and Tom Waits lovechild and his piano playing as incredible & one of a kind. This is a whole new kind of Piano Blues. This is Ron Tanski... Amazon.com
Blues Underground Network
I don't get to listen to a lot of Piano laced blues, so it was a bit of a treat when I received Ron Tanski's Debut CD, Dragged You Down. Dragged You Down contains a mix of traditional and deep soulful blues, brought all together with a smoky bar room feel. But that is not the highlight of this Album, no the highlight is the sound that emanates from Ron's vocal chords. I have not heard a Blues singer like this before, and it truly takes me back and reminds me a lot of Louis Armstrong, Tom Waits, and yes even a little Joe Cocker. In that department Ron truly stands out in front of the crowd, representing, as best as can be, the meaning of a gin soaked, ragged, and gravelly sound, as it is often compared to. Besides his amazing gift as a singer, Dragged You Down, has no problem in showcasing his other two great talents, which are his virtuoso piano playing and his ability to write some pretty darn good songs, in fact Ron wrote all the songs on Dragged You Down, which in itself is a rarity for Debut Albums and shows us the confidence Ron has in himself and his music. Dragged You Down will take you back to the days when the Piano ruled a lot of the blues and will leave you feeling perhaps a little more fuller then some of the more modern cookie cutter blues, to often heard, nowadays. Ron Tanski is one of a kind in today's blues scene and Dragged You Down was a rare treat that just doesn't happen that often any more. For those of you whom really like the music to quietly and gently take you away to a better place for a while, you will not go wrong with, Dragged You Down. Excellent CD... Thoroughly enjoyed it... Highly Recommended... Really looking forward to Ron's next Album...
John Vermilyea (Blues Underground Network)