13 songs – 48 minutes
Live From The Slippery Noodle Inn does pretty much was it says on the tin, featuring 12 original compositions, played with articulate acoustic accompaniment, subtlety, humour and no little emotional honesty, all recorded at The Slippery Noodle Inn in Indianapolis in November 2015. It’s also a little crackerjack of an album.
Dave Muskett was a semi-finalist at the 2014 International Blues Challenge, his duo, Muskett & Carnes, was a 2015 IBC Finalist and his talent is plain to see on this release. Heavily based around Muskett’s Piedmont-style finger picking, beautifully merged with simple bass, drums and harp accompaniment, Live From The Slippery Noodle provides a master class in well-written and well-played acoustic blues.
Given Muskett’s Piedmont influences, it is not surprising to hear the ragtime influence in upbeat numbers like “Ain’t My Good Girl Now”. The band also essays old-style Delta blues (albeit played with a modern day élan) in “Handyman Blues”, dancing shuffles like “Ain’t Got It All” (with its tongue-in-cheek refrain “Well, if you ain’t got it all, you ain’t got it all to lose”), the Big Bill Broonzy-esque “That Kind Of Walk”, the slide-driven “Rain Song” and “Sweet Mary Jane”, the grooving blues-rock of “Semi-Naked Shoe-Shine” and the Buddy Guy-style Chicago shuffle of the closing “You Gotta Know.”
Muskett sings in a warm, husky voice and alternates nicely between finger-picked accompaniment and single string solo lines. The majority of solos however are handled by Mark Carnes on harmonica, who is also an impressive supporting player, weaving melodies underneath and around the vocal lines. Supporting Muskett and Carnes are the driving rhythm section of Jay Arnold and the outstanding Charlie Bushor who lay back just enough off the beat to nail down a spare but groove-laden foundation.
Lyrically, Muskett is happy to employ traditional blues double entendres as in “Handyman Blues” (where he sings “Now come here baby, I’ll be your handyman. Yeah, I’ll be there in a hurry, baby, fast as a handyman can. If your back gets all rusty or your front porch has sprung a leak, I’ll be there in a hurry, baby and have you done in less than half a week”) or the singalong “Pet That Thing” with its engaging nod to Tampa Red’s “Play With Your Poodle.” He also writes with a sharp wit (as on “She Can’t Give Me The Blues”) as well as open-hearted emotion (on “Sweet Mary Jane”, which he introduces with the line “Let’s just say this is about an old girlfriend of mine that I talk to every day now…..”).
But while the lyrics and melodies of the vocals are obviously important, equally important is the groove and this is a very rhythmic recording. The listener is left in no doubt that the audience was up and dancing to the irresistible drive of the music.
Although clearly heavily influenced by the music of the ‘30s and ‘40s, the band attacks the songs with modern day enthusiasm and pace and the result is a highly enjoyable album. It has hints of Clapton’s Unplugged set in the casual yet professional ambience of the performance but Live From The Slippery Noodle Inn stands very much on its own merits and is a magnificent recording of what was clearly an outstanding night of music.