COP Records – 2017
11 tracks; 44 minutes
The Mark Cameron Band is an experienced outfit from Minnesota. They have recorded many CDs over the years but it was 2013’s One Way Ride To The Blues that brought them to a wider audience, consolidated by the 2016 release Playing Rough. This live album, recorded at the Blues On The Chippewa festival in August 2016, reprises seven tracks from Playing Rough and one classic cover, together with four other Cameron originals. Mark fronts the band on guitar and vocals with Sheri Campbell on sax, flute, percussion and vocals, Bill Keyes on harmonica and vocals, Scott Lundberg on bass and vocals and Dan Schroeder on drums. Gary Eckhart, a stalwart supporter of Blues Blast, provided all the photos for the CD booklet.
The album was recorded almost by chance when Scott noticed the high quality audio gear at the festival and suggested the band ask to be recorded, so the album is exactly as the audience at the festival enjoyed. Opening cut “Doctor In The House” bounces along with Bill’s harp to the fore, Mark singing of how the blues can ‘infect’ you once it takes hold; “Somewhere Down The Line” opens with Mark’s neat guitar work, a tale of being misled in your career which also doubles as an intro to the band before “Dicey”, a funky blues with sax and a spoken vocal. Sheri’s flute adds an other-worldly touch to the slow blues “Borrowed Time” before two upbeat tunes that must have got the crowd moving: “Mojo Shuffle” opens with Mark’s immortal line “Tell me what is mojo? Well I know it when I see it” and “Hammered By The Blues” is one of those ‘churning’ blues that gets you rocking in your chair. At just short of six minutes it’s the longest tune here, the band generally keeping the solos short and sweet.
Howling Wolf’s “Killing Floor” is the sole cover and it’s a solid version with Sheri name-checked for her egg shaker solo in the middle! Three more cuts from Playing Rough follow, starting with the title track, a catchy tune in which Mark tells us about what sounds like a difficult relationship with a ‘bad, bad girl’: “the first kiss you bit my tongue”! Mark then switches to slide dobro for a semi-acoustic pair of songs: “Done Me Wrong” and “Rusty Old Model T”, both tunes having some country blues references. We keep on an automobile-related theme with “Back Street Boogie” which makes a good closing number with its upbeat rhythm, sax support and catchy chorus.
The Mark Cameron Band has a stated intention of delivering ‘foot stompin’, butt shakin’ music’ and this live album does just that.