Mick Kolassa – Blind Lemon Sessions
Endless Blues Records MMK012020
12 songs – 33 minutes
An inventive songwriter and picker as well as a former member of the board of directors of the Blues Foundation, acoustic guitarist Mick Kolassa follows up on his well-received 2018 CD, 149 Delta Avenue, with a heaping helping of what he likes to call “free-range” blues – apt nomenclature when you consider that he traveled all the way from his home in Mississippi to lay the groundwork for it in Germany.
A former member of the board of directors for the Blues Foundation, Kolassa spent a lifetime in the business world. As “retirement” approached, however, he began focusing his energies more and more toward the music he’s loved since childhood. This is the sixth album he’s produced since his 2014 debut, Michissippi Mick – a labor that’s involved solo work as well as recordings with his Taylor Made Blues Band or in partnership with Florida-based guitarist/bassist Mark Telesca.
Mick plays six- and 12-string guitars as well as baritone guitar and ukulele, banjulele and provides percussion on this one backed by guitarist David Dunavent and bass players Seth Hill and Bill Ruffino on this one aided by Eric Hughes on harmonica and Alice Hasen on violin. All of the instruments are delivered throughout absent of amplification.
The project began after Kolassa was invited by Thomas Schlelken to perform in Bremen and record a few songs for a pair of compilation albums he was planning to release on his Blind Lemon Records, the European home for several top acoustic musicians, most notably American blues historian David Evans. The idea for a full CD developed as Mick’s free-range approach mixed favorite covers with new material.
Recorded at Horwek Tonstudio in Ganderkesee, Germany, and Farmhouse Studios in Moscow, Tenn., this collection mixes eight covers with four originals, a pair of which, Kolassa admits, are best considered to be Americana, not blues.
Lonnie Johnson’s “Jelly Roll Baker” opens the action with Mick’s warm baritone sprightly delivering new life into a song he’s been performing for about five decades. The blues flow strong through “Text Me Baby,” an original that deals with a thoroughly modern concept, but built atop a traditional chart, delivered on banjulele and featuring Hasen’s fiddle.
“Keep on Truckin’” – originally titled “Ja-Da” and recorded in 1918 by The Original New Orleans Jazz Band, which included a young Jimmy Durante – is up next before Kolassa moves forward to the ‘50s for Peggy Lee’s “I Want to Be Seduced,” played on baritone uke. The sexual overtones continue in the slow-and-easy original, “Mr. Right” — in which Mick insists: “I ain’t never done it wrong!” – and an acoustic take on Jace Everett’s “Bad Things,” which some folks might recognize as the theme for the HBO series True Blood.
Taj Mahal’s “Cake Walk into Town,” the traditional “St. James Infirmary” and Blind Blake’s familiar “Diddy Wah Ditty” follow before Kolassa switches gears with the delightful original ballad “Recycle Me,” a sweet request for renew a former romance that isn’t quite blues – but who cares? A cover of Lennon and McCartney’s “Help” follows before “The Space Between Us” – a 95-second reflection on folks growing apart – brings the action to a close.
Available through Amazon, iTunes and CDBaby, Blind Lemon Sessions is a perfect set for anyone who appreciates acoustic blues.