"Down at the Washington Hotel" is one of the first projects from the new Plastic Meltdown Records' studio in Sequim, Washington, USA. All original songs are the core of this project, spanning Dennis Roger Reed's thirty plus year music career. Also included are three bonus solo acoustic tracks. Many of Southern California's premier musicians provide ample support. The late, great Chris Darrow added brilliant slide guitar on one song, and Reed's brother Don is featured on a number of tunes.
"Down At The Washington Hotel" is the fifth solo album released by American singer-songwriter Dennis Roger Reed of Orange County, Southern California, USA, for the record label 'PlasticMeltdown Records' with recording studios in San Clemente, California and Sequim, Washington. As with his previous album, he once again had the help of his brother Don Reed who contributes on a few tracks on electric lead guitar, rhythmic acoustic guitar, electric 12-string guitar and on mandolin in the instrumental song "Taste Of Texas "and on the song "Wishes Were Horses". Those are two of the fourteen official tracks on this album, but for the fans there was an extra bonus in the form of extra acoustic versions of three songs that are on the original record and were added here at the end of this CD. Those are the songs "Brutal As The Truth", "Elizabeth" and "Such A Long, Long Time" with which the album begins in a fully orchestrated version. The diverse music styles that pass through this track list are bluegrass, folk, rock and roll, country rock, pop and some blues. All fourteen tracks on "Down At The Washington Hotel" are original compositions by Dennis Roger Reed, and for the recording of this album he had the help of a batch of instrumentalists with contributions on drums, pedal steel, bass guitar, banjo, fiddle, organ and piano. In his more than thirty-year career, this artist has shared the stage with big names from the music world such as J.J. Cale, Rodney Crowell, Bo Diddley, John Sebastian, Little Richard, Texas Tornados and BB King. But he also has a lot of solo performances throughout America and Canada to his credit. "Down At The Washington Hotel" is the follow-up to the album "Before It Was Before", released in 2018, which was highly praised on these pages by my 'Rootstime' colleague Eric Schuurmans. Well, we were also very pleased to enjoy this new Dennis Roger Reed album and to be more specific especially the songs "Elizabeth", "Manzanita", "Wishes Were Horses" and the bluesy track "You Better Hold On".
By Wolfgang Giese
"Music needs such individuals!" so I jubilantly finished the review of the record "Before It Was Before" from 2019. By that I meant the singer / songwriter Dennis Roger Reed, who lives in Southern California. That album was his fourth, and now he's back with Down At The Washington Hotel. And here, too, brother Don Reed has been helping out on several stringed instruments. I am happy to be able to discover Chris Darrow as one of the numerous guests, with the slide guitar, who unfortunately can only be heard on "You Better Hold On."
The music exudes the same cozy, refreshing and familiar atmosphere as on the previous album. Inside the CD packaging you can read that the exclusive original compositions include the following genres: some bluegrass, blues, folk, rock and roll, a taste of British invasion pop, a little country rock, plus even a few minutes of psychedelia. How true these words are, so under the broad Americana hat all these elements cavort cheerfully and swirl together or individually. Recorded in San Clemente, California and Sequim, Washington, it also reflects the whole range of music that can be associated with the musicians Reed played with, such as JJ Cale, Rodney Crowell, Bo Diddley, John Hammond , Doug Kershaw, BB King, Little Richard, The Nashville Bluegrass Band, New Riders Of The Purple Sage, John Sebastian, Texas Tornadoes and Jessie Colin Young.
And from all these ingredients the protagonist has created his very own sound, even though a bit of Bob Dylan shines through in "Elizabeth" for example ("She Belongs To Me"). Other pieces certainly gives rise to associations. "Brutal As The Truth" marches fine in country mode, and artists like John Prine or Gordon Lightfoot also come to mind. "Washington Hotel" is very folky, and here as well as elsewhere I can't help but notice that Reed has improved vocally.
The instrumental "Taste Of Texas" is a fine bluegrass track and could well be associated with "Sweetheart Of The Rodeo" by The Byrds, "Manzanita" is a cool dry rocker, great country rock in the style of the New Riders Of The Purple Sage as is "Maybe Someday." Brother Don's electric 12-string determines the sound of the impressive "Wishes Were Horses".
Yes, and then Chris Darrow on "You Better Hold On", the quiet song is refined with his slide; "At The Time It Was True" is very folky and romantic, a very nice ballad awaits us here, and "I Need You" ends the order of the regular songs, as the following three bonuses are acoustic versions of first three tracks and offer great expressiveness despite the lighter production.
By Zoe Hodges
Dennis Roger Reed's "Down at the Washington Hotel" boasts an authenticity and sparseness about its production.
He drafts in some of the finest players from California to accompany him. The 17-tracks are self-penned and for the most part, there is a relaxed feel to the album. Although he has a lovely tone to his voice, I feel I want to hear slightly more conviction in his delivery especially in the more emotive songs.
I love the backing vocals in I Need You and the guitars bright, crisp tone. Wishes Were Horses is my favourite track on the album, again there's a lovely acoustic guitar sound – the dominant accompanying instrument throughout the record in fact. There is lots of space for each line to linger. He also showcases the lower end of his vocal register towards the end of each section.
The record closes with Such A Long Long Time, again a simple, to the point lyric is at the centre of this love song. It's a tune that is sure to bring a smile to your face.
By Remo Ricaldone
Dennis Roger Reed in the course of his artistic career has crossed practically all the styles of music of American roots, mixing and alternating them with good inspiration in a path that has led him to record five albums and share the stage with people of the caliber of Rodney Crowell, JJ Cale, New Riders Of The Purple Sage, Texas Tornados, Jesse Colin Young and John Sebastian among others. He is currently based in Southern California and in the town of San Clemente. He recorded "Down At The Washington Hotel", a record that showcases his aptitudes and talents in a sufficiently clear way. The enjoyable choice of presenting folk, blues, country-rock, bluegrass and rock with a sixties flavor is rewarded above all by a very good central part starting from "Washington Hotel", perhaps the most significant song, to move on to instrumental with a grassy 'flavor' '"Taste Of Texas", to the incisive "Wishes Were Horses", to the crystalline "You Better Hold On" with the participation in the slide guitar of the late Chris Darrow (to whom the disc is dedicated), to the modest but fascinating "At The Time It Was True" ringing a series of songs that ennoble the album in some way. To mention the (even more) acoustic rereading of the first three tracks of the disc, three moments that personally I would have seen better if they had replaced the others thus making this "Down At The Washington Hotel" better structured and flowing.
By Paolo Baiotti
After having recorded its projects for many years in San Clemente, California, the PlasticMeltdown label has recently moved to a new studio in Sequim in the State of Washington. They have always been active in the folk and roots field. One of the first projects recorded in the new location is the fifth solo album by Dennis Roger Reed, an artist with thirty years of career behind him with this independent label. He's flanked by a group of session men from Southern California, including the participation by Chris Darrow on slide in one song and by brother Don Reed on lead guitar and mandolin on three songs. Dennis, a resident of Southern California, has played at numerous festivals and has reached a decent audience in other countries as well, such as Belgium, Germany, Canada and Australia. Very active as a journalist, he has written for several music publications. His solo debut dates back to 1999 with Little King of Dreams, but previously he was part of and recorded with the Andy Rau Band and Blue Mama. He's also recorded as part of Suitcase Johnnie.
In his projects and in particular in the most recent Before It Was Before CD, a collection of songs written and recorded in different periods, Dennis has alternated original songs with covers by artists such as Bob Dylan, Lee Hazlewood and Bobby Womack. Reed's Down At The Washington Hotel is a mix of bluegrass, blues, swing, country rock and folk made up exclusively of songs written alone or in collaboration. Down At The Washington Hotel highlights both the electric and the acoustic side, in particular in the three final bonus tracks that provide acoustic versions of three of the already recorded electric pieces. It is an album that exudes simplicity and sincerity, without fancy flights, but with a constant quality especially in the arrangements in which the supporting musicians of considerable talent participate. A relaxed record, with the opener Such A Long, Long Time, the bluesy You Better Hold On with stand-out slide guitar by Chris Darrow; the up-tempo Elizabeth; the melodic Brutal As The Truth; the folk of the title track and the bluegrass of Taste Of Texas seem the tracks with something more.