At times it seems that everyone has bought a Strat or Les Paul (and an occasional Flying V) and claimed to be blues men. Yeh well the Blue sis more than a I-IV-V, or a shuffle – if it don’t move ya, or if it is boring it ain’t the Blues.
These two artists DO play any and all of the above but they have touched a special place inside the Blues with their music. It might not sound like the Blues to some of us, but if listen closely we will see it’s roots showing up under the new color that they color it with.
Mark has earned his wings playing in mean ol’ Texas for over 20 years, to most of us is his stint most prominent stint was with Dickey Betts & Great Southern. With this, his 5th CD release, Mr. May has refined his sound and melded it into an oriflamme of what can happen when Southern Rock meets the Blues head on and become one.
Straight off the player we are treated to a nicely crafted Texas shuffle, ‘Six Strings or Two Legs‘ wherein he flatly states that “if you ain’t got six strings or two legs don’t ask me” and tells us about the rules of the road and how a women loving blues man is all he is and all he will ever be – and that’s a good thing cos what he does he does well.
Blessed with a soulful voice that can do justice to whatever he chooses to sing Mr. May understands the power of spacing and his innate feel for soul filled vocals are pleasing on the ear. His guitar work, ranges from funky-back beat styled riffs to subtle soft harmonic laced work and even visits the plain old nasty station all with equal aplomb and grace needed.
‘Eyes Of India’ is a nice softer composition which has an ethereal nuance about it, and shows off his well appointed guitar techniques while not in overdrive. The title track ‘Release My Soul’ is a tight minor key song that visits the dark side of life when things that seem just fine at first turn on you and take hold of your soul til you cry and scream for release.
Other note worthy tracks are ‘Vindablues’ an aptly titled Rumba turned swing shuffle tune has him weaving in and out of styles and progressions that recall the likes of Jimmy Page and others penchant and fascination for combining American Blues with Indian roots music – but it is wholly his own take.
The final track of these eleven originals is a well crafted acoustic song ‘Sweet D‘. we are not talking basketball or football here. A lyrical instrumental composition that takes us home after this journey and settles our soul after it’s release.
If you are not familiar with Mr. May or wish to learn more please visit his web site at: www.markmay.com
Dave Fields and I first met on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, he was outward and fun, generous and working very hard at his chosen craft. With a few releases under his belt he has just released ‘Detonation’ – to me it is a most accurate title.
‘Prophet In Disguise’ takes us to the late sixties with an ethereal organ filling up the background while his somewhat phased vocals sing of possibilities and the positiveness of one. Throw in some backwards guitar and I am ready to take the other half of that Orange Sunshine just cause I can. Speaking of backwards guitarists I have always felt that Steve Katz from the Blues Project and Blood Sweat & Tears was the master of that space and time but I have to make room on the throne for Mr. Fields because of his work through out this release.
I think it is funny that Mr. Fields has a track called ‘Bad Hair Day’ only because Dave’s ‘do, is as Mr. Zevon once said is “perfect”. A fun cut that has a reggae styled beat to it with an additional sound scape that is a welkin pointing straight toward the firmament of the skies. His tasty work on the wah-wah provides the perfect accompaniment to strolling down the street bopping along with your bad self and knowing that these bad times won’t get you down for long.
Dave knows perfectly how to grok whatever subject he chooses to write about. ‘Better Be Good‘ speaks openly about the current state of affairs in this crazy world that is seemingly becoming more like the past (and not in a good sense). His low keyed referencing of Mr. Hendrix about just wanting to play his guitar fits as aptly now as Jimi’s did then.
With an explosive start that leads us into a helluva hard-rocking beat Mr. Fields gives us a scorching attack on the putative societal position of psycho therapy in ‘Dr. Ron‘. His resolute position serves as a reminder that people are meant to be free and not permanently attached to a mental crutch.
An earlier mention of Jimi Hendrix is not out of place here. Mr. Fields has seemingly drank from the cup of Jimi and it’s effects are very good indeed. There are many instances through out “Detonation” that one can hear the subtle flashbacks of his music or style, but none better than the instrumental cut ‘Lydia’. Mr. Hendrix gave us some fascinating instrumentals over the years and what Dave has done is to incorporate an unfettered combination of the feel and aural rainbow that Mr. Hendrix was so adroit at doing. Think combination of ‘Third Stone From The Sun’ meets ‘New Rising Sun’ and …you’re not even close – gotcha!
With this release Mr. Fields has upped his ability to coerce pleasing sounds from his guitar. He has broadened his horizons and expanded the tent that we share called the Blues (Roots may fit better here, but semantics are for wordsmiths not impassioned reviewers like myself). ‘Detonation’ is a super release and I cannot wait to see what David has up his sly sleeve for us in the future.
To learn more about this young cat please visit his site: www.davefields.com
So there you have my ‘Boys With Guitars ‘ summer viewing. If you are not familiar with these cats please give them a look and listen.
Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
Where Blues Thrives
photos: courtesy of artists/labels