Amy Hart – Live At The Mayne Stage | Album Review

amyhartcdAmy Hart – Live At The Mayne Stage

Vizztone 2015

12 tracks; 51 minutes

Chicago native Amy Hart followed her muse to spells in Nashville and Florida, her style evolving into a blend of Americana, country and blues.  Here she returns to her native city for a live set recorded at the historic Mayne Stage Theatre in July 2014.  Amy describes “Blue Eyed Blues” as “kinda old-timey… like me” and it’s an apt description of the band’s relaxed country blues style. Amy sings and plays guitar, accompanied by husband Wally Hoffman on bass, Matt McDowell on drums, Gene Bush on dobro and PT Gazell on harmonica.

All the material is original, written by Amy herself who often draws on her own experiences for inspiration, a good example being “Blues At The Top Of The World”, a song inspired by her headlining slot at the Himalayan Blues Festival in Kathmandu.  Amy dedicates the gently swinging “Get Ready” to husband Wally and she sounds serious in her intentions to “love you till the end of time”.  Amy hits a slightly tougher blues stride on “Put Me Back” which has fine solos from Gene and PT and also takes the opportunity to preview a couple of tunes from her next album: Red Dress Blues is a strong song, a more upbeat blues which finds Amy out on the town in her red dress intent on having a good time to drown her sorrows at the end of a relationship.

“Get The Girls Dancin’” describes how the band approaches a gig and the recipe is provided at the beginning as Amy describes precisely the band’s approach: “Bassman rubs the fretboard with his fingers and thumbs; grease it with harp and you’re almost done.”  “Congratulations” with its jaunty riff and lyrics tells the listener that “God only hears you when you’re down on your knees.  Congratulations baby, you got the blues”, the song also providing the opportunity for Amy to introduce her key accompanists Gene and PT.

“Rich Ass Daddy” is a comic song in which Amy tells us that she is looking for someone who will provide for her financially, regardless of their physical size.  Amy closes the set with another new song inspired by her husband Wally who enjoys driving a ’59 Chevrolet Apache truck.  “You Drive Me” is a pleasantly upbeat tune in which Amy confesses that “you drive me like that old truck”.

Overall this is an album that will appeal to those who enjoy that place where blues and country meet.  Not a straight blues album, no Chicago blues riffs in sight but the music is solidly played and was clearly very well received by the live audience at the Mayne Stage.

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