Hector Qirko – Field Notes | Album Review

hectorqirkocdHector Qirko – Field Notes

HQ and Blind Guru Recordings


CD: 13 Songs; 45:15 Minutes       

Styles: Roots, Americana, Contemporary Acoustic and Electric Blues

Birdwatchers (now called “birders”) and other naturalists often take Field Notes to document the wildlife they find. Music can definitely be compared to nature. Hear the crashing thunderstorms of heavy metal, the sunshine of gospel and soul, the blazing heat of rock, and the twilight cool of blues. The Southeast’s Hector Qirko records several aspects of music’s essence on his new mellow and low-key album. None of it is pure blues. Even the artist says so in a personal letter sent with his promotional info sheet: “I guess it’s roots, Americana, or what have you. Made it mostly in Charleston, SC, where I’ve lived for the last few years, but with players from all over.” This release contains eleven original songs, one cover (J. Clement’s “Guess Things Happen That Way”), and one public-domain number (“More Pretty Girls than One”). Overall, it’s a relaxing stroll through the woods of acoustic country, blues and bluegrass.

Biographically, our Notes taker says this in his letter: “My name is Hector Qirko, and I came up musically playing in the mid-‘70s with (now Blues Hall of Famer) Lonnie Brooks, mostly out of the old Pepper’s Hideout but touring as well with him and Little Mack Simmons. I guess that makes me, in a way, a Chicagoan, although I’ve been living in the Southeast for many years now. But it definitely makes the blues, especially Chicago blues, an essential part of my musical perspective no matter what kind of music I’m playing.”

Along with Hector, who performs on vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, are Roger Bellow on fiddle and mandolin; Jack Burg and Ron Wiltrout on drums; Kevin Crothers, Mark Fain, and Daniel Kimbro on bass; Steve Horton and Sarah Pirkle on harmony vocals; Johnny Spell on lap steel; and David Johnson on banjo, dobro, fiddle, gut-string guitar and mandolin.

The three songs below are the most interesting “specimens” on this unique CD:

Track 03: “Last Real Cowboy” – This yearning ballad tells the tale of days and a lifestyle gone by, and a nonagenarian who embodies them: “Well, now he’s nearly 100, and he doesn’t ride no more. He hung up his saddle a good long while ago. But he’ll wear his old ranch buck-clothes until his dying day. He’s the last real cowboy that’ll ride this way.” The multi-talented David Johnson plays melodic dobro and fiddle.

Track 05: “One Cup” – Time for some percolating acoustic blues! A swinging shuffle describes a jilted lover’s plight: “The TV is on; it’s that same old show – of people with friends, yeah, and places to go. But I sit up, all alone in the dark. All I want to know, is, baby, where you are.” Dig Roger Bellow’s fiddle and Steve Horton’s smooth harmony vocals.

Track 11: “Christmas in Bethlehem” – This qirky (ha) yet haunting fable describes a couple who takes refuge behind the stable where Christ was born. Reminiscent of “The Death of Queen Jane” from Inside Llewyn Davis, once it’s inside your head, it’ll never get out. “Like a wise man told me, ‘Gotta watch your feet. When you bring it up, you’ve got to keep it neat. If you get too close, you won’t know where it’s at, and if you look away, you might not get it back.” The moral here? Spiritual enlightenment can happen in a split second, so be watchful, but don’t force it.

Hector Qirko’s Field Notes are refreshing reminders of Americana’s nature!

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