South Island Rhythm Kings – Still That Way Today | Album Review

South Island Rhythm Kings – Still That Way Today


CD: 13 Songs, 49 Minutes

Styles: Classic Electric Blues, Ensemble Blues, All Original Songs

Have you made New Year’s resolutions? If so, have you kept them until now? If so, that’s fantastic. If not, fear not. You’re not alone. Old habits die hard, and as Canada’s South Island Rhythm Kings know well. “I’m Still That Way Today,” admits “Lazy” Mike Mallon regarding his lack of savvy with money and women, on the catchy title track of his band’s latest album. It consists of thirteen “classic electric blues” songs which live up to the descriptor on the back cover of the CD. Instrumentally, traditional styles (e.g. Chicago and Piedmont) and instruments (harp, guitar, bass, keys and drums) reign supreme. Vocally, the Rhythm Kings sound like your best and most trusted neighbors – candid and conversational, inviting you for a feast even if it’s the middle of January. They’re offering up blues comfort food: “Cornbread, Peas, Black Molasses” and “Sweet Potato Pie” included. No weird entrees here with exotic musical ingredients like 21st-century synth or techno beats. This is what you need if your soul must feed.

Lead guitarist Carson Mallon reveals this quintet’s motivations in the CD liner notes and on their website: “It has been said the blues is a language we all speak. From an empty wallet to a cold side of the bed, we all experience the blues in some way. It is the expressions, or the dialects, that vary from region to region. The searing slide guitar of the Mississippi Delta, the swamp-ridden Louisiana Blues, the uptown horn arrangements of Texas and the West Coast, the soul-stirring electrified harmonica from Chicago; these sounds have gone on to influence the world of music for decades. It is from these traditions that the South Island Rhythm Kings draw their inspiration. In a modern world of digital excess, this is a group of musicians who present a repertoire of old-school, real-deal blues music. You will not find any meaningless virtuosity on the new recording, only the pure expression of blues being reared on the stretch of Highway 1 from Nanaimo down to Victoria.”

The South Island Rhythm Kings are leading man “Lazy” Mike Mallon on lead vocals and harp; Carson Mallon on guitar and lead vocals for tracks six, eight and thirteen; Dan Dube on keys and background vocals; Nick Dokter (no typo) on drums and background vox, and special guests Jack Lavin (producer) on bass and Sean Kilback (recorder, mixer and master) on guitar.

Out of this tasty baker’s dozen, the most savory are the opener/title track, “You Drink Too Much Booze” (a sing-along more contagious than you-know-what), the sizzling “Someday,” the no-holds-barred slow blues masterpiece “I Live Out in the Country,” and “Sweet Potato Pie.” The best of all, however, is a swing blues number entitled “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away).” That title made this Gen X’er LOL and want to get out on the dance floor. It features killer guitar from Sean Kilback and a refrain that won’t get out of your head – possibly until summer. Although their vocals may grate a bit, as on “No Naggin’ No Draggin’, this is a minor flaw.

Make listening to this album one of your habits in 2023. The South Island Rhythm Kings remind me why I loved the blues twelve years ago, and I’m Still That Way Today!

Please follow and like us: