Mosher Street Records 2014
CD1 14 tracks; 63 minutes: CD2 14 tracks; 65 minutes
This is the fourth volume of blues from South Florida, lovingly compiled by Jerry and David Blum and featuring a stunning array of music from harmonica players, the common feature being that all are either locally based in Florida or are frequent visitors. Most of these tracks are taken from released albums and it is good that the artists in question have given their permission for the tracks to be used here. With so much music on offer a reviewer can only give a flavour of the project, so here are some highlights.
Starting with locals what better place to begin than with the current President of the South Florida Blues Society, Bob “Bluesbobby” Weinberg? Bobby is found playing “How Blue Can You Get?” with The Joey Gilmore Band (a former IBC winner), Joey singing this one in a smoky voice and the production, with saxophone as well as Bobby’s harp, is satisfyingly full. Another South Florida local act The Lady A Blues Band invite us on to the “Blues Train” where we are assured that we won’t hear “no damn George Jones”! In more down home acoustic style Ernie Southern and Pompano Pete give us “Stay Away”, one of the unreleased tracks on the album. The Fabulous Fleetwoods are another long-standing S Florida band and they get the honour of opening Disc 1 with the original rocker “Failure To Appear” while John Carey and Piano Bob Wilder give us a foot-tapping “Union Man Blues” with particularly good vocals from John.
Of course Florida is a big state and there is room here for Floridians from other parts of the state such as Bradenton’s Doug Deming And The Jewel Tones. Doug’s band often tours with harpist Dennis Gruenling (from New Jersey) whose version of “Rockin’ All Day (Reelin’ And Rockin’)” is terrific. Also from the Tampa Bay area is TC Carr & The Catch whose “Checkin’ Out” is a fast-paced instrumental with some excellent stop-start rhythms. Orlando’s RJ Harman plays fast and exciting harp on “Wake County Stomp”, subtitled ‘a tribute to Jason Ricci and New Blood’
Among the visitors we find 2013 Blues Blast nominee for the Rising Star Award Brandon Santini from whom we get the excellent title track of his latest CD “This Time Another Year”, fellow Memphian Billy Gibson with a track from his “Live At Rum Boogie Café” album and the previously name-checked Jason Ricci whose “Mississippi March” swings along and sounds very challenging to play, as one might expect from Jason! Nico Wayne Toussaint is French but spends time in Florida and has represented the South Florida Blues Society at the IBCs. Here he is in good company with another former IBC winner JP Soars on cigar box guitar and David Maxwell on piano on a storming version of Muddy’s “Deep Down In Florida”. The late Pat Ramsey (one of several departed musicians honoured in the artwork for the album) is represented by the amusing “Allergic To Work”.
Anyone who is into harmonica blues will find something to treasure in this generously proportioned celebration of the humble little instrument. The CD is available from CD Baby, as is Volume 3 which concentrates on guitar players.