Blue Star Records
CD: 9 Songs, 30:00 Minutes
Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues and Blues Rock, Slide Guitar Blues
Ever take a good, close look at the current logo of Baskin Robbins ice cream shops? “BR,” it clearly reads, with the main portion of each letter being blue. However, the bumps of the “B” and the straight line of the “R” are bright pink, forming a “31”. Chicago-born slide-guitar master Mark Nomad’s latest album, #9, resembles both the aforementioned logo and its advertised parlors. Clever, original blues songs are almost-subliminally concealed in the middle of several postmodern rockers and ballads – like the “31”in the middle of the “BR.” On the CD, there’s something to appeal to almost every demographic of a mass audience, like the 31 flavors offered inside each Baskin Robbins store. There’s hard rock, soft rock, an instrumental, an esoteric opener, and (of course) the blues. This will disappoint purists hankering for more of Nomad’s sizzling slide. Making it big in the music business, however, is kind of like making it big in the ice-cream business: you’ve got to have something for everyone if you’re going to make a profit.
Mark’s webpage reveals that his music has been scrumptious for over forty years: “The Nomad moniker was born in Chicago when he sat in with the Jimmy Johnson Band at B.L.U.E.S. on Halsted Street. Nomad began playing the blues in the 1960’s and by the 70’s, was sharing the concert stage with many of the biggest names in show business. He was co- founder of the original Little Village. Their debut album is considered a collector’s item and the band was legendary in the Northeast. Nomad penned a jingle for the Subway fast food chain in their early days. Another composition was used as the theme for WBAB, a major New York radio station, for 10 years. Nomad has performed at venues such as the Bottom Line, House of Blues, Bushnell Memorial, Toad’s Place, China Club, Iron Horse, Palace Theater, New Haven Coliseum and scores of colleges and blues festivals.”
Alongside Nomad on eight original songs and one cover, as he performs on lead vocals, guitar, harmonica and bass, are Peter King on electric and upright bass; Sturgis Cunningham on drums and harmony vocals; Dale Monette and Kevin Lennon on drums; Dave Trenholm on saxes; Dan Fontanella on piano; and Jim Weeks on guitars, bass, drums, keyboards, and backing vocals.
The following track is the best genre-pure song on the album, “berry blue” all the way through:
Track 05: “What’s a Man to Do?” – Love is probably the number-one subject of blues songs, with money coming in a Gillette-razor-close second. Our narrator here is trying to catch the eye of a standoffish lady at a concert: “The band starts playing a soundtrack for the room. People are paying for the booze and the food. Amongst the criers, you stand there like a rose. They’re stoking my fire; I’m naked under these clothes!” Even more salacious is Dave Trenholm’s sax work, coupled with Mark Nomad’s cheeky vocals.
Flavorful #9 has offerings for everyone in a crowd, but die-hard aficionados will definitely crave more blues!