Black Market III – Dashboard Jesus
Rip Cat Records RIC 1808
11 songs – 47 minutes
Based out of San Diego, Black Market III are a roots/Americana band that tours the world, delivering a mix of interesting originals and diverse covers into a stew that’s truly their own and ventures from the blues root on which they’re based.
A trio, they’re fronted by a husband-wife team — guitarist/vocalist Scottie Blinn and bassist/vocalist Roxanne Coverdale — anchored by Alan West on percussion. Blinn served as the longtime front man of The Mississippi Mudsharks, a group that earned three San Diego Music Awards and 28 nominations in two stints together that covered the better part of two decades.
His background in the blues began in his late teens when he fell under the influence of bluesman Tomcat Courtney, the Texas-born guitarist who was deeply influenced by Lightnin’ Hopkins and taught him Hopkins’ distinct fingerpicking style.
Although she and Blinn hooked up long before he formed the Mudsharks in 1992, Coverdale didn’t pick up the bass until 2010, when Scottie taught her how to play as a stress-reliever for her day job. Black Market III, which is her first band, grew out of their five-night-a-week practices. That led to jam sessions with their intent to work as a duo at coffeehouses and wineries. As their gigs improved, however, so did their plans.
The couple deliver five originals here along with six covers, three of which are freshly reworked traditionals. Their sound – which ranges from straight-ahead blues to rock influenced by Tom Waits and Social Distortion — is aided by several other artists, including Courtney and guitarist Anson Funderburgh, who handles lead guitar for part of one number.
Now age 90, Courtney provides vocals for the closing cut. Also lending a hand are Billy Watson (harmonica), Gary St. Clair and Carl Sonny Leyland (keyboards), Jesus Cuevas (accordion), Jules Whelpton, Breanna Wallace and Cami Smith (violins) and additional vocals from Roni Lee, and Joey Harris.
The disc — the fifth in Black Market III’s catalog — opens with a straight-blues take on Otis Blackwell’s “Daddy Rollin’ Stone,” a tune that’s been covered by a who’s who of musicians, including Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones and The Who. Blinn’s vocals are a smoky baritone, and his guitar playing are square on the mark throughout with Coverdale providing vocal accents. The traditional feel continues with Bobby “Blue” Bland’s familiar “I Wouldn’t Treat A Dog (The Way You Treated Me).”
Roxanne’s at the mike next for her original, “Your Love Is So Cruel.” Her alto voice is strong and warm as she delivers the ballad, which features harp runs from St. Clair. The music starts straying from the blues with Blinn’s “When The Sun Goes Down,” a driving, but slow-paced blues-rocker, but returns for a duet traditional arrangement of “House Of The Rising Sun,” which is pretty pedestrian save for bright choral enhancements.
Blinn’s “Prelude,” a brief, 49-second sonic rock exercise, introduces “Black Roses,” a medium-tempo rocker that’s built on a blues hook, before the music takes an odd turn with “Regresare,” a somber ballad first recorded penned by the Mexican-American band, Tito & Tarantula, and the original, “Live & Let Live,” a parallel duet with jazz-rock overtones. The album closes with two more traditionals: “O’ Mary Don’t You Weep,” which features Funderburgh, and the acoustic ballad “Gallows Pole,” with Courtney at the mike.
Available through Amazon and other outlets or direct from the artists’ website (address above), There are some tasty interludes for blues fans here. If you’re a traditionalist, however, this one might have you scratching your head in some sections.