April 2005

Acoustic Blues and Beyond
April 5, 2005 Lula Lounge Toronto

Michael Pickett
Michael Pickett played the blues on his 1931 National Steel guitar with such passion that he broke its strings twice last night. That was not a bad thing, because the first time he filled in with a blazing mouth harp solo of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee's "If You Lose Your Money, Please Don't Lose Your Mind". This man is easy with the blues, like a mule loping through Texas: handles his guitar, mouth-harp and voice together like Buddy Bolden handled a straight razor. “Strop, strop, strop, make my razor real sharp/Frankie Jackson needs killin'”. Michael sings this song he wrote in Toronto, and you wonder. It’s clear he writes about experience he knows: “Tired of being pushed around”, “I got fooled”, “If that wasn’t love, it’s as close as I could come”. Straight and tough enough are his blues, and his love songs have the loveliest melodies.

Harrison Kennedy
Harrison Kennedy, born with the blues into a musical family, started out professionally over 50 years ago, as a singer. But when he picks up his guitar, he's one with it. Picking, strumming, or beating it with both palms while he sings, hums, moans or shouts, the blues pour out of him like honey from a bee. The blues come out of his background. Got “40 Acres and a Mule”, came from his farming family in Amherstburg, Ontario. That locale also yielded a bouncy tune about an island in the Detroit River that the audience loved. His aunt, who played the banjo ("an African instrument") taught him the country blues slide tune called “Hummin’ Blues.” And from his Hamilton days he sings about living in the inner city to a kind of Muddy Waters da da-da-da duh beat, picked with his thumb only, meditating on “hard not knowing where your next meal’s coming from.” Completely natural and having fun he shouts a blind Sonny Terry type tune “I’ve got my eye on you, I’m watching you”. A cheerful, out-front tell-the-truth-and-shame-the-devil artist.

Peter Price
Peter Price, a brass-voiced blues shouter from Manchester, England, opened this evening of Acoustic Blues at Lula Lounge with an eclectic program that included some low down Lonnie Donegan blues, a Brazilian ‘blues’ an Irish ‘blues’ tune written for the bagpipe, and blues from the two deltas--the Mississippi and the Ganges. The Irish, the Ganges and the Brazilian tunes were virtuosic instrumentals. Peter also sang a beautiful, gentle love song by Big Bill Broonzy called “When Did You Leave Heaven?” This was Peter’s first visit to Canada. Hopefully, Gary Topp, who organized this true blue event, will find a way to bring him back again.
We welcome your comments and feedback
• • • • • •
Report and Photographs by
• •
Stanley Fefferman
for The Live Music Report

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