If you are like me and every now and then need a historical trip down to the roots of Americana blues, deep blues, Alan Lomax historical-type blues, then this recording is for you.
CD Review by Karla D.
LISTEN & DOWNLOAD - HERE
I don't know much about Doc (Dan) Livingstone and his Griffintown Jug Addicts, except that they are Canadian like me and have a deep affection for the blues like me. In a brief conversation with Dan Livingstone, over the Internet, I asked him about this recording.
"We wanted to make sure that it had a vintage sound so it was recorded live off the floor on to two inch tape. Keeps it honest!", explains the founder of the Griffintown Jug Addicts, fingerstyle blues guitarist Dan Livingstone.
Livingston contacted me to let me know that he and the band were coming to Spain this summer.
"We will be in Barcelona at the Harlem Jazz Club on the 13th of July, the 14th at a festival near Perpignan, and we will be playing again (a matinee gig) on the 16th in Barcelona (continuing on into France after the 18th)"
Livingston sent over the MP3's from the CD and I have put them up into our CBBlues Jukebox for everyone to enjoy.
There is no doubt that Livingstone is a Americana revivalist, as many of the young Spanish are today. His fingerstyle guitar playing is light and on the dobro you can get the lift on the sound. The dobro with its resonation helps too!
[When it comes to blues roots, ragtime and dobro players, I am very picky because when I lived in Waterloo, Ontario I use to hang with Thomas Charles Roberts a.k.a. "Champagne Charlie" who was a Canadian Jazz, Blues, and Ragtime guitarist and singer. He was very keen to pass on his knowledge of the blues to me as a dedicated music journalist. Champagne was born in Ottawa, Ontario on January 5th, 1945 and passed away in Guelph, Ontario on April 4th, 2008. He recorded a CD with Carlos del Junco (harmonica) called Big Road Blues, 1995. Check it out!]The other Canadian musicians- Griffintown Jug Addicts- on this CD are exceptional players as well and all have a profound acumen for the truth, the originality, the tradition, the music.
A passionate New Orleans influenced player on tenor banjo and vocals is Dominic Desjardins hails from New-Richmond, in Gaspesie, ”Dom” Desjardins was educated and received his diploma in Jazz (guitar) at the CEGEP St-Laurent and continued his studies at Concordia University on Tenor Banjo.
Mathieu Roberge is recognized for his imaginative style and expressive performances on the upright bass and washtub bass, as well as vocals. Julia Narveson was born in Waterloo, Ontario, and settled in Montreal in 2005.
World Champion Jug Tubbist, Julia Narveson emerged from the classical milieu and gradually became a multi-instrumentalist on violin, ukulele "bass", saxophone, mandolin, musical saw, pitchers and contrabassoon.
REVIEW ON SONGS
1. Livingstone's dobro performance is stellar on his version of WRITE ME A FEW LINES is a bit more bouncy than the old Mississippi Fred McDowell original. The strong repetitive American hill country blues characterized by a strong emphasis on rhythm and percussion, steady guitar riffs, few chord changes and pronounced "groove" is executed with a swagger. Livingstone's voice suits this type of blues as does the rest of his band.
2. Once again Mississippi Fred McDowell is represented with his classic 61 HIGHWAY and Livingston belts out the lyrics with the same hurtful moan, while the dobro resonates and whines. Exceptional finger picking lightens up the melody as notes peak out behind the dobro. Lord, that 61 Highway is the longest road I know.
3. CHUMP MAN BLUES pays tribute to Blind Black but again, this song has been perked up with light touch finger playing and a wee bit of callback from Julia, adding a nice female touch. Since this song is about a man missing his woman, it makes sense to have a female subject in the tune. Just saying chump!
4. RAG MAMA RAG is such a happy tune with all of its ragged rhythms. Of course this song was a favourite of Blind Boy Fuller but the way that this band brings the banjo into the mix is really fun. And the extra "do-wha-diddy" scatting is also a plus. Oh - do that Rag... You gonna reap just what you sow!
5. Blind Arthur Blake would admire this band's version of his BLACK DOG BLUES because this version has harmonies and a small bit of banter by Julia. Great strumming and finger picking action give this tune a contemporary feel. Livingstone's voice is rather ragtime"ish" reminding me of Disney's Michigan J. Frog. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michigan_J._Frog)
6. I LIKE MY CHICKEN FRYING SIZE by Merle Travis is really fun. On this CD track the banjo takes the lead and the horns are not left out. I can hear the washboard too! The only thing that wasn't included was the according but this is an cover song.
7. DEATH DON'T HAVE NO MERCY is one of the most representative pieces that brought me to the Rev. Gary Davis many moons ago and this song is treated with respect on this CD. The tempo, the truth, the depth that death will come to your house and he won't stay long are captured by Dan's vintage vocals. The original track is mournful and soulful and Livingstone brings the "dirge" out with his rendition. It's a grave digging classic!
8. I actually like this rendition of DONE LEFT HERE by Mississippi Fred McDowell performed by Livingstone more than the Fred! Livingstone's performance on his dobro is clean and impeccable. Okay, maybe that isn't a better reason to prefer it over Fred's version but I like it better? Again, the tempo is quicker showing off the dobro's ability to create its unique sound.
9. Finally, the last track on this CD caught me off guard. I was not familiar with the song nor the composer. Doc Livingstone really showcases his finger picking perfection on this complicated ditty. He breezes his way through LAST STEAM ENGINE TRAIN composed by John Fahey.
So there you have it.
LISTEN & DOWNLOAD - HERE
Here are some European dates for Doc (Dan) Livingstone and his Griffintown Jug Addicts
July 13th- Harlem Jazz Club - Barcelona
July 14th - Les Musicales d'Agly - Planèzes (close to Perpignan)
July 15th- Girona (venue to be confirmed)
July 16th- Le Cinc-Santa Coloma de Gramenet (matinée)
July 20- La Source- Desaignes
July 21- La Cause Toujours- Valence (France)
Aug 4-5-6, Festilasai- Biarritz
website - https://danlivingstone.com/home/