Travelin’ With The Blues
Out of all the musical instruments out there, you can’t deny that the harmonica is built for travel. So Travelin’ With The Blues is a perfect title for Harpdog Brown’s new release. The award-winning Canadian blues legend decided to put in some more road time to make this record, and they were miles well invested.
Harpdog keeps things stripped down with his tight and polished backing duo of Pat Darcus on upright bass and Jordie Edmonds on guitar. It was with Edmonds’ encouragement that Harpdog called up Austin musician Little Victor seeking the man out as a producer for his next record. Victor was thoroughly impressed with the bluesman’s sound and invited Harpdog and the band to meet up with him for some sessions at Bigtone Records in Hayward California, a fully decked out vintage analog recording studio owned by musician Big Jon Atkinson.
Armed with a fistful of great covers, and another fist full of impressive originals, the big men joined forces with the little man to cook up a boiling mess of good time music overflowing with inspired guest performances from such accomplished performers as Jimmy Morello, Carl Sonny Leyland, Rusty Zinn and harp legend Charlie Musselwhite. The end result is juke joint heaven.
On Travelin’ With The Blues Harpdog Brown travels the road from where the blues began up to the north where it later settled, referencing all the stops along the way. It’s an album where originals like Cloud Full Of Rain stand up tall next to his Muddy Waters cover of Hard Days Blues; the dog’s Home Is Where The Harp Is rocks the same hardwood as Otis Spann’s Must Have Been The Devil, and the contemporary shouter Facebook Mama can cook in the same kitchen with Willie Dixon’s Bring It On Home.
As Little Victor points out in the liner notes the “album was mostly recorded in the “classic” style of the 1950’s. There are very few blues albums out there with this sound recorded after 1966.” Harpdog Brown’s harmonica skills are electrifying and his distinct and malleable voice shows off his strong ear and deep knowledge of regional styles. Add to this the rockin’ swing machine that is Edmonds and Darcus combined with a crew of accomplished blues disciples and you got yourself an earth shaking old school roadhouse party right in the palm of your hand.
Originally published in BC Musician Magazine