CD: 12 Songs; 53:44 Minutes
Styles: Jazz-Influenced Blues, Harmonica Blues
If ever there was a genre of music conducive to travel, it would be the blues. Few people talk about Mississippi rock versus Houston rock versus Los Angeles rock, and so on. Wherever touring artists go, they pick up the local and regional flavor of their latest venue. A case in point is the Canada-based ensemble The KingmiXers, consisting of Gary Preston on harmonica, vocals and keyboards, David Schade on guitar and vocals, and Anita Bonkowski on drums, bass and keyboards. They play jazz-influenced blues with a mosaic of styles, from Chicago to West Coast to New Orleans. Their new album, Flyboy, displays their instrumental versatility.
According to their promotional info sheet, they have done seven tours of Europe, and this year’s tour is already set for June. They have also performed at festivals across Canada and the U.S., including main-stage performances, workshops and group panels. Their albums have earned international airplay, and their personality and humor are clearly reflected in their songs. The only flaw on an otherwise-solid collection is that the lead vocals are talk-sung, but otherwise it’s great – especially Preston on harmonica. Together, this trio performs nine original tunes and three covers: “Walking Blues” by Robert Johnson, “Let Me Explain” by Sonny Boy Williamson, and “Guilty” by Randy Newman. Of the originals, these three are this reviewer’s top picks:
Track 08: “Lacy’s Place” – This 1950’s-style rocker is a hopping homage to good eats and good company. “At Lacy’s Place, she’s serving Mountain Dew in Mason jars and hush puppies, too. A picture of her mama up on the wall, picture of her daddy in his overalls. They’re frying catfish, ooh, at Lacy’s Place.” Listeners will wonder if this is an actual restaurant, especially if their mouths are watering. Their ears shall also have a tasty fill of the sizzling keyboard solo.
Track 10: “The Real World” – “I’ve got to strangle my imagination just to preserve a little semblance of peace,” gripes our narrator in this shuffling lament. “Who is emerging from the dark? Who’s going to light up a spark?” Truly, no one really knows, as we all “come up against the real world.” The band’s vocal harmonies here are slightly reminiscent of the Steve Miller Band, infectious and pointed at the same time.
Track 11: “You’ll Never Get the Blues” – As this Chicago-style blues ballad reveals, in the world of music, many are called, but few are chosen. “Went to the juke joint. My bowling shirt was on. Harmonica in my belt, ready to have some fun. Blowing in my mic, I started to really get down. Somebody said, ‘Sounds like Mr. Rogers. Man, who is this clown?’” Even a gypsy lady gives his money back: “You can cross my palm with silver, but you’ll never get the blues.” Hilarious!
According to the liner notes, this CD is dedicated in memoriam to “flyboy” Trevor Dossett.