Daniel Seymour & Mark Robinson – Chug It Down and Go
Blind Chihuahua Records
10 Songs, 39 minutes
Daniel Seymour and Mark Robinson, both originally from Indiana, have long ago found their place in the Nashville music world as both solid session players and as solo performers and occasional sidemen. Robinson fronts the Mark Robinson Blues Band, with a fan base the spans the U.S. and reaches into the European Union. Seymour performs his songs in such iconic Nashville venues as Brown’s Diner, and is also known by fans on both sides of the Atlantic as a touring bassist for artists such as David Olney.
Chug It Down and Go – produced and engineered by Seymour and Robinson at Guido’s South Studio – features ten original songs written by Seymour and Robinson, either individually, or collaboratively. The album’s personnel include Seymour on vocals, guitar, upright bass, mandolin, ukulele, auto-harp, Marxophone, and percussion, along with Robinson on vocals, guitar, dobro, banjo, lap steel, resonator, harmonica, high-strung guitar, drums, percussion, and kazoo. Additional musicians include Pat McInerney on drums and percussion; David Olney on harmonica; Michael Webb on accordion; and Bill & Melanie Davis on backup vocals.
The songs on Chug it Down and Go represent a fairly comprehensive overview of blues, roots and Americana music, played by a couple of guys who really get it! It covers everything from jug-band music to country blues to Cajun, Western Swing, and even old-timey jazz.
The opening track, “Chug It Down and Go,” a sort of drinking anthem, is an up-tempo foot-stomper sung by Seymour, and punctuated by some tasty slide guitar action.
The up-tempo Cajun reel “One Eye Blue” is a really catchy love song that Robinson co-wrote with John Hadley, and is definitely one of my favorites on the CD. The propulsive accordion is courtesy of Michael Webb.
Co-written by Seymour and Robinson, “Barefoot Gal” was originally conceived of as a jump blues, but it somehow managed to morph into jug band territory, and it does so proudly. Robinson’s staccato banjo and his languid vocals feel perfect for the song, as does David Olney’s meandering harmonica fills.
“Slow Moving Train” is Robinson’s apt metaphor for an aging musician. It feels a lot like an old standard that you’ve heard before, but just can’t place where you’ve heard it. And the sweet whine of the dobro just underscores the melancholy of this fine track.
“19th Street Ramble” is a finely-tuned guitar rag, a foot-tapper in the style of Norman Blake, John Hartford, Doc Watson, et al. Another real winner, on an album that has quite a few of them.
Seymour’s “Mississippi Line” has a string band feel to it, and is driven by Pat McInerney’s half-time brush shuffle. It tells the tale of a guy on the run, either from the law or from a woman… With lyrics like “She got what’s comin’, and I got mine, and I got a hundred miles to go to that Mississippi Line,” you can draw your own conclusions.
The island feel of “Gypsy Moon” is courtesy of the complex harmonies, in conjunction with Robinson on lap steel, Seymour on ukulele, and Michael Webb, again on accordion. It’s definitely an unusual number, but in a satisfying, Jim Kweskin meets Lawrence Welk kinda way.
The subdued 3/4 time rhythm and haunting mandolin of “Dixie Waltz” is the perfect way to end this collection. It’s charming, sweet, and draws the evening to a gentle close.
Throughout the album, the instrumentation is perfect, the individual performances as good as it gets. Of the two, Seymour’s vocals are arguably stronger than Robinson’s, which still have a charm of their own and work well within the context of the songs he’s penned.
Bottom line? This is authentic, rootsy Americana that makes you feel as if you’re listening to it on some old, wooden back porch on a late summer evening. If that sounds like your cup of tea, you can’t go wrong with this collection of well-written songs and classy yet understated performances by these two fine musicians and their assembled cast of equally-fine supporting musicians!