Giuseppe and Rodrigo – Met at the Mississippi
CD: 10 Songs, 37 Minutes
Styles: Acoustic Blues, Harmonica Blues, Duo Album, Debut Album
You’ve got to hand it to first-timers. Those who debut in any scene, whether music, movies, art, literature or other arenas, give their all for three chief reasons. First, their passion for their work exceeds their fear of failure, which can be a huge obstacle. Secondly, it demonstrates their ambition and initiative. Thirdly – and this is a daunting prospect – it could be their only chance to prove themselves to themselves and the world. Digital media continues to make debuting easier. St. Louis’ Giuseppe (D’Amelio) and Rodrigo (Reis) have taken full advantage Their freshman release contains ten acoustic and harmonica blues songs: seven originals and three covers. “St. James Infirmary Blues” is the most recognizable of these last. The other two, “Bright Nights” and “One Kind Favor” were written by Celso Carvalho and Geraldo Luiz Artiga D’Arbilly, and Jules Taub and Sam Hopkins, respectively.
The CD itself pays homage to the Mississippi River, to which “the story of the blues is inextricably tied,” as it says in the liner notes. Giuseppe and Rodrigo met playing the blues jam circuit in early 2018. Both were relatively new to St. Louis and trying to get as much music into their lives as possible. Giuseppe had neglected his instrument for a few years and was playing the jam circuit to get back in shape. Rodrigo was a new transplant from Brazil looking for anybody passionate about music to play with. It took several months of compliments and encouraging nudges when they were called together at the jams before the idea of trying some acoustic songs together came up.
Here’s the good news: These two know how to play real-deal blues. Their sound is authentic, lacking showy tricks and gimmicks. This is the kind of music people played on their front porches and in local taverns, not to jam-packed stadiums. Their vocals, however, are heavily accented and nearly indecipherable in many songs. This can’t be helped, but it can be augmented by clearer diction and tighter phrasing. On acoustic duo albums, lyrics take center stage by default. There’s no raucous backup band or backing tracks to mask them. Nevertheless, the guitar’s good and the harp is hale and hearty. Perhaps that’s the final verdict, the lowdown, the take-away here.
Giuseppe and Rodrigo succeed on instrumentation in their debut, Met at the Mississippi!