Lino Muoio – Mandolin Blues – Acoustic Party
Man Blues Publishing (Self Released)
Lino Muoio has appeared on several dozen CDs and began his recording career under his own name in 2008 with the album Blues on me. He released prior mandolin CDs in 2012 and 2016 and here he has an all acoustic release with an assortment of other Italian musicians who specialize in acoustic music. A self-taught guitar player at age 16, since 1999 Muoio has performed over 1,000 gigs with the Italian blues band Blue Stuff.
Blues mandolin grew out of the black string bands that played ragtime and blues. Memphis, Tennessee was the hub for these bands where they began to merge with the jug bands. Classic songs like “Sittin’ On Top Of The World” emerged from this and even Muddy Waters was a member of a string band with mandolin; The Son SImms Four featured Muddy on guitar and Louis Ford on mandolin. The mandolin migrated north to the industrial cities and became a staple on Maxwell Street in Chicago. From there it moved around the US and even to Europe. It survives in our blues genre with noted players like Rich DelGrosso (a huge influence for Lino) and Billy Flynn carrying the torch. Muoio is a staunch supporter and his mandolin blues are outstanding.
The CD starts with “Let’s Ease Our Mind” with Muoio on mandolin, Veronica Sbergia on vocals, Mario Donatone on vocals and piano, and Max De Bernardi on drums. Veronica and Mario trade off vocals and sing a duet as the piano strides along and Muoio wails on his mandolin. “My Better Days” is Muoio on mandolin witn DeBernardi on dobro and vocals. The two finger pick nicely and there are some cool vocal harmonies. Next up is the rollicking “Roosevelt Stomp,” featuring the same duo as the prior cut. A song about being a lonely stranger who moves from town to town, the theme is authentic and the sound is sweet. Stefano Tavernese takes up the dobro and vocals with Muoio on “Wise Enough.” A thoughtful and slow paced cut, the duo trade licks and solos and make some beautiful music together.
“Do It Right” features Paolo Bonfanti on guitar and vocal and Francesco “Sleepy” Miele on upright bass with Muoio. Paolo’s vocals have a gritty earthiness that is cool and the interplay of guitar and mandolin is well done. The bass subtly solidifies the sound. Up next is “N.C.L.M.” which stands for “Naked Cherry Lobster Moan.” It reprises the players from the prior cut and it’s a slick little short instrumental that bounces nicely and gets the foot tapping. “Sad Today” Is a down tempo and darker cut about a cheating woman. Max Prandi takes up the guitar and vocals here while Tavernese is on dobro and Roberto Ferrante is on percussion with Muoio. The strings blend well here and there are some interesting wave noises that take us out with the vocals. Francesco Piu is on guitar and vocals for “Peace Of Mind.” Giovanni “Nanni” Gaias is the percussionist and Miele returns on bass to support Muoio.The finger picking on the mandolin here is layered over the guitar and makes for some cool sounds with the other two players.
“I Can’t Stand” features Lucio Villani on upright bass and vocals, Marco Pandolfi on harp and Muoio on mandolin. It’s a bouncy cut with the bass driving things and the harp and mandolin add punctuation and solos. Villani’s vocals are upbeat and Muoio continues to excel on his instrument. Tavernese returns next on guitar and vocals for “Footpath To Town.” Strident guitar and vocals with good interplay with dobro (Adriano Viterbini) and Muoio. Armando Serafini adds a nice layer of percussion that helps drive this one along. It’s has a whirlwind of a sound with hand claps making for a neat effect. Tavernese ir primary on vocals and Barbara Eramo shares in the vocals mix with a moaning sort of ehterial sound that makes for a good effect late in the piece. Tavernese plays guitar along with Viterbini on dobro, Serafini on percussion and Muoio on mandolin on “Shelter.” It’s a cool song that flows sweetly. Edoardo Petretti starts things off on piano a little discordantly and the banjo and mandolin pluck a bit to get “Good Times Comin'” off the ground. Then things begin to roll as Matan Rochlitz sings along with his banjo playing. Muoio flutters in and out on his mandolin and Marco Zenini plays a bit part of his upright bass.
“It’s Up To Me” brings Sbergia and DeBernardi in to front the band as he plays guitar, Donatone plays piano, Villani slaps the bass and Muoio hits the mandolin. It’s got a slick honky-tonk sound that I enjoyed. Gina Fabiano joins Sbergia on vocals while Muoio plays is mandolin and Donatone tickles the keys on his piano. The vocals take a smoky and very earthy tone on this nice little slow blues. The album concludes with another sweet cut entitled “She’s So Spicy,” as sexy and sultry blues with a piano boogie and mandolin and guitar intertwined. Sbergia and Fabiani take the vocals, De Bernardi is slick on the guitar, Muoiu excels again on mandolin, Donatone sparkles on the piano and Villani holds up the bottom end well on his bass.
This is a great CD and I loved it from start to finish. The only thing that I’m wondering about is the cool sperm whale and deep sea diver art on the CD cover and foldouts. The cover features Muoio pouring coffee from an espresso pot down a sperm whale’s mouth, a very different sort of cover. I can see this CD on the acoustic awards lists for the next rounds of music awards. The mandolin, dobro and guitar work is exceptional and hearkens to the string band era where this music came from and adds a little Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influence to boot. Muoio does an outstanding job as do the accompanying musicians. If you like mandolin blues, then this one’s for you- it is super stuff!