Misty Blues –Weed ‘Em And Reap
Self-Release – 2020
11 tracks; 50 minutes
Based in Massachusetts, Misty Blues has been playing the blues since 1999 and releasing a regular flow of albums, Weed ‘Em And Reap being their latest. Recently, however, the band seems to have been on a creative roll as this is their second release in twelve months (see Greg ‘Bluesdog’ Szalony’s review of their previous disc Pickled And Aged in Blues Blast, December 23, 2019). They were also finalists in the 2019 IBC.
One very interesting feature of this band is how many are multi-instrumentalists: Gina Coleman handles the vocals but also turns her hand to cigar box guitar, bass and percussion; Bill Patriquin is on bass and trumpet, Rob Tatten drums and trombone, Aaron Dean on sax and flute, Benny Kohn on keys and Seth Fleischmann on guitar. Most of the band add backing vocals, Gina’s son Diego Mongue covers bass and drums when other band members are busy on their second instruments and Wes Buckley adds guitar to three tracks; keeping things in the family the artwork for all the band’s albums comes from Michael Mongue. The eleven songs are all originals, nine written by Gina (one with assistance from Seth) and two instrumentals coming from Benny and Bill. The music ranges widely with plenty of blues but also touches of jazz and funk in the mix, making for a varied and enjoyable album.
Gina has a deep contralto voice and opener “No More To Give” exploits that characteristic well on a Delta-infused tune on which Gina plays cigar box slide and Diego sits in on bass as Bill plays trumpet. The tune builds in intensity and has a haunting quality as Gina offers all she has to give but still finds that the demands on her continue to increase, Seth’s anguished guitar underlining the sense of the lyrics. The lyrics to “I Ain’t No Giving Tree” follow a similar theme but the tune is more New Orleans in feel, especially with Benny’s piano stylings. A light, airy feel pervades “Blues Coaster” with some mellow, jazz-inflected guitar from guest Wes which is then picked up in an electric piano solo from Benny and a breathy tenor solo from Aaron. Diego again sits in on bass so that Bill can switch to trumpet for “Find My Way Again” which has a funky rhythm over which Gina’s deep vocal explains that she is rather lost, Wes supplying another short but effective solo in a completely different style to the previous cut.
The tempo rises for “Don’t Send Me Home”, Seth’s insistent riff at the heart of the song and Aaron supplying an intense sax solo. Lyrically it’s another rather downbeat song as Gina sounds desperate to find her route in life. “Phunk ‘N Grewy” is Bill’s instrumental with nicely jazzy horns and a funky drum and guitar groove at its base. Gina sits that one out but is soon back at the mike for “Swing My Blues”, Bill on trumpet and no bass involved, Benny’s piano supplying the bottom line and Gina adding some scat vocal lines. The longest track here is the six minutes of “Keep Rising Up”, Gina taking on bass duties and Diego on drums, allowing Bill and Rob to form a three man horn section with Aaron. Gina’s vocals are not quite as distinct on this one though the message of the song is clear from the title.
A second instrumental “Nice ‘N Mellow” is led by composer Benny with Gina on guiro before Gina and Seth’s song “Hold Me Tight”, a slow tune with anguished vocals which are matched by piano and sax explorations. The album closes on an upbeat note with “Treat Me Like I Want” which has a catchy chorus delivered by every member of the band apart from Aaron who is busy playing sax throughout!
It is always good to see bands playing original material and these songs are well played by musicians who are clearly extremely talented players. The mix of styles makes for an interesting listen which should appeal to a wide audience.