Root Blues Reborn Records
Little Joe McLerran won the 25th Annual Solo International Blues Challenge at age 25. His “sidekick” is Robbie Mack, who is better know as Rob McLerran, is Little Joe’s Dad. Robbie has been a fixture on the music scene for 50 plus years and has been inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame and the Blues portion of the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. Starting in the early 60’s with cowboy singer Jim Wakely’s band, he gained fame as part of the Astronauts, Colorado’s first (and only successful) surf band. The Hardwater Band (psychedelic), Boondoggle and Balderdash (swamp) and a host of country, rock, swing, blues, jazz, jug, bluegrass, doo wop, surf, marching and other bands have been home to Mack. He likes playing in a band and is rarely heard solo.
Why a solo folk blues album is now being released is rather simple- Mack found this recording he made a few years before Little Joe was born and he forgot how good it was. So now he’s released it as they work on the bands’ latest new album. And I must agree- it is a damn good CD. Mack’s vocals are a little nasal in a good way, the style of perhaps Bob Dylan. His singing is clear and on pitch and the guitar picking is impeccable.
Mack starts with some country blues; “Doctor Blues” calls out the Red Cross, Blue Cross and the Heart Fund as they won’t do him any good to cure him from the loss of his girl. “Land of Love” is a happy go lucky Piedmont blues where Mack searches for a rider to accompany him to the land of love. “Turnaround” offers us a ballad of slow blues from the shore. “Andersonville Nightmare” sings of a civil war prisoner longing for his freedom. “Who Can You Trust” is a cool little ditty with Mack ranting a bit about all the “lies” he was told as a child.
“Vanessa Jones” is a love song for the new gal in town while “Babylon” is Mack’s version of Mississippi John Hurts Avalon My Hometown.” Slick stuff. “Boys & Girls Together” tells of the story of what the sexes might do when they get together. In “Let Me Get On With You” Mack gets down to it and asks a woman he meets what he’s like to do with her. “Spanish Fandango” offers a vocal version of Mississippi John Hurts instrumental.
“Pinto Bean Advice” is a light hearted tune about over loading your pressure cooker and over cooking pinto beans. In “Pallet on the Small Side” Mack sings of some of the uses of a small, narrow, hard bed. “The Wagon” is a tune where Mack dreams of being a medicine show’s driver and roadie; I can’t recall ever hearing a song on that topic! He also sings of the Captain’s red haired daughter and that he’d be killed if Captain Jack knew what he was thinking about his daughter. One of Boulder, Colorado’s famed dance halls is featured in “Shannon’s Bar and Grill.” It’s a driving and fun little two step about the demise of the bar. He jokingly calls for a banjo solo that never comes. “Waiting to Hear from You” finishes things up; Mack croons and spoons about a woman he hopes he hears from.
Lovers of good acoustic music need to check this album out. Mack’s work is extraordinarily good. The recording occasionally has a little unintended reverberation on the vocal highs, but other than that this is an exceptional CD that acoustic music lovers will embrace and enjoy!