Gospel music has a rich history with the blues, from such legendary performers as Blind Willie Johnson, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and the Reverend Gary Davis to contemporary gospel blues artists including Glenn Kaiser and Darrell Mansfield. The Reverend Jimmie Bratcher has been accepted in both Christian and secular music venues with his brand of the blues. This DVD/CD combo set, Live on the 4th of July, delivers the powerful blend of blues, gospel and southern rock that “The Rev.,” as Bratcher is affectionately called, has become known for.
Jimmie Bratcher has been involved in the music business for over three decades. After giving his life to Jesus Christ in 1976, Jimmie Bratcher has been involved in ministries as a pastor, evangelist, author and TV host in addition to his ministry as a musician. The blues has always been Bratcher’s musical first love, adding that his music has been his most effective means of communicating the gospel of Christ.
Bratcher released his first two albums, Honey in the Rock and Something Better, in 2003. Recorded that same year at the Red, White & Blues festival at Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, Missouri, Live on the 4th of July captures an eight-song set featuring selections from both studio albums.
Bratcher and his band open with “Doctor, Doctor,” which gives the entire group a chance to shine, including the horn section. Lyrically, the song represents a conversation with a doctor about a condition that can only be cured by the Christ himself:
Can I have a talk with you?
Can I have a talk with you?
I need a Great Physician
for my soul condition.
In addition to Bratcher’s vocals and guitar work, Paul Draper excels on the B3 and Rhodes. The band also has a tight rhythm section with Jeremy Worden (bass) and Doug Dimmel (drums). Bratcher’s family is also involved, as his daughter assists with background vocals, and his son, daughter-in-law and son-in-law help behind the scenes on the production end.
Standout tracks from this set include the opening song “Doctor, Doctor” as well as “Hey, Hey,” “Party Going On,” “Do You Know a Friend” and the closer, “Something Better.” “Rain,” “Can’t Get Over It” and “Love Running” are also good. All of the songs were written by Jimmie Bratcher himself.
The DVD has some special features added, including a “Meet the Band” interview, as well as an interview with Jimmie Bratcher himself plus a segment with Bratcher in his home jamming on a Weissenborn slide guitar. “As the Story Goes” appears at the end of the concert on the DVD as Bratcher walks through an abandoned house sharing his testimony of how he gave his life to the Lord in 1976.
Live on the 4th of July is a great release for fans of blues and blues-flavored rock, regardless of one’s faith background or lack thereof. The Rev. Bratcher is a man who has been tremendously blessed by God over the years, and it is a blessing to see how the Lord has used him in his various ministries. I look forward to hearing some new music from Jimmie Bratcher in the near future.