Following Dion’s critically acclaimed Blues With Friends (2020), once again an all-star cast joins him on his new album, Stomping Ground out November 19 on Keeping the Blues Alive Records (KTBA), produced by Wayne Wood and Dion. Recorded during the pandemic, the album features guests Boz Scaggs, Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton, Peter Frampton, Patti Scialfa, Bruce Springsteen, Billy F Gibbons, Keb’ Mo’, Sonny Landreth, Joe Menza, Mike Menza, Marcia Ball, Jimmy Vivino, Rickie Lee Jones, Wayne Wood, Joe Bonamassa, and G.E. Smith. Stomping Ground also includes liner notes by Pete Townshend.
With 14 tracks, mostly co-written by Dion and Mike Aquilina, Stomping Ground finds the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer in his authentic blues/rock & roll element with famed musicians joining in. A smooth, soulful vocalist, Dion allows space for guest artists to lend their unique style to each song. Their contributions ultimately serve the songs, never overpowering what are innately great tracks. Dion is the hub of this blues celebration.
Dion is perhaps the only artist who has remained relevant and innovative from the 1950’s through to the present. In his teens, Dion sang on Bronx street corners and in local bars, gathering other singers, using their voices instead of instruments and in 1957 he formed Dion and The Belmonts. They created hit after hit with doo-wop and became a national sensation. Thereafter, his solo career in the 1960s, 70s and 80s produced a string of #1 hits. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, Dion helped ring in the age of rock and roll. He is cited as a major influence on such artists as Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Lou Reed and more.
The Blues are Dion’s stomping ground. With influences of rock and R&B, the songs on the album are varied and interesting, from rock & roll to blues to slow burning and soulful. Stomping Ground furthers Dion’s amazing and continuing musical journey.
Kicking off the substantial record, “Take It Back” is a rip-roaring album opener with infectious groove, blues-infused rock & roll stomp featuring Joe Bonamassa. Dion’s star shines bright on this rocket fueled blues boogie. He sings, “I want you gone, gone, out of my mind” and it’s from the seat of his soul that he commands this track and others on the record. Bonamassa downshifts his riffs with the power of a V-8 engine. An instant classic.
Dion is the master storyteller on Stomping Ground. “Dancing Girl,” with a Brazilian feel, is an easy rocker about delighting in a dancing woman from afar. The track is graced with the unmistakable and beautiful guitar by Mark Knopfler, in concert with percussion and an organ solo to beat. (Wayne Wood.)
Each of Dion’s songs conjure different moods and styles, some mournful blues rock ballads like “There Was A Time” featuring Peter Frampton on guitar. Dion tells the story with his expressive, storied voice, about love and a missed romantic opportunity. Peter Frampton adds guitar with soul and passion on this moving number, his elegant riffs with purposeful space between the notes. There are some lovely lyrics such as “There was a time, I looked away, I gave my fears the final say.” Strings also come into play, subtle textures of mood.
A tribute to the great Dr. John, “That’s What The Doctor Said” rolls in with its funky New Orleans groove and absolutely delightful piano by Steve Conn (Bonnie Raitt, Kris Kristofferson, Kenny Loggins, Albert King). An up-tempo song full of kick and bounce, and horns (of course!) riding the tight rhythm section. Dion sings, “You’re in the right place but it’s the wrong time.” This living legend has rhythm in his veins.
Be sure not to miss “My Stomping Ground” feat. Billy Gibbons, “Angels In The Alleyways” feat. Patti Scialfa and Bruce Springsteen, and “I’ve Got To Get To You” feat. Boz Scaggs, Joe and Mike Menza.