These Missoula bluesmeisters have a third recording on the streets. When you listen to these guys, you get to the marrow of the Delta blues. It’s visceral and rough-hewn, yet polished at the same time – accomplished, in part, by superb production.
We’ve got Missoula blues icon Phil Hamilton, harmonicas, saxophones, and percussion; Marco Littig, guitar; Emi Kodama, percussion; Tahj Kjelland, bass; and Roger Moquin, drums and percussion. Everyone contributes vocals, and Kodama and Littig burn up the soundwaves with their lead singing. The band collaborated on the songwriting, except for one cover.
“One Step Ahead of the Blues” opens with dirge-y, amped-up guitar and trembling harmonica; forthwith, Kodama proceeds to torch the lyrics. She possesses a fine instrument, pretty and malleable.
Littig growls his way through “Why Baby Why,” sharing lead vocals with Kodama, as honkin’ sax joins the guitar in a cool riff. The rockin’ “Sweet Nostalgia” possesses a New Orleans R&B flair; Kodama belts it out as backing vocalists answer her with a soulful “Don’t keep me waitin’ on you.”
“When the Bottom Drops Out” has a wicked guitar vibe and a sexy, rock-steady beat. How about “Ice Water”? Littig’s raucous, smoldering pipes combine Bob Dylan and Tom Waits nuances, set to muscular harmonica and a struttin’ drumbeat.
You’ll emancipate your hips to J. B. Lenoir’s “Feeling Good,” a finger-poppin’ snapper replete with Littig’s bottleneck slide guitar, a cappella singing, and some solo bass and drum work. Moquin and Kodama trade lead vocals on this cover piece.
“Living for Another Day” is a bit spooky; Kjelland embellishes it with some of his signature rap lyrics. Their liner notes describe them as playing in such a way as to “make the limbs feel looser.” And it’s true: these folks will definitely get you movin’.
Hear an interview with the band at Musician’s Spotlight.
Vist the group at www.reverbnation.com/mudslidecharley. Recorded by Ryan Maynes at Club Shmed Studio, Missoula, MT; produced by MudSlide Charley, 2014.
– Mariss McTucker