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L.A. Beat

CD Reviews

John Wort Hannam is king of Queen’s Hotel

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To paraphrase the opening track of John Wort Hannam’s new CD, ‘Queen’s Hotel,’ “... measure twice before you cut, you’ll always  bend a nail if you drive it  through a knot" and never let  Fort Macleod songwriter John Wort Hannam tell you he can’t play guitar.

Hannam’s pretty fingerpicked guitar playing is matched only by his catchy vocal melodies.Click to listen now!

His fourth full length CD includes lots of southern Alberta inspiration like “Church of the Long Grass’ and ‘Requiem Of A Small Town,’  some history on “Pier 21” and some great fatherly advice on ‘With The Grain.’

Plus there are a lot of slower ballads including “Worth a Damn,” which is a pretty duet with Jenny Whiteley.
 I like several tracks including  Hannam’s Celtic tinged ode to unions  on “Tonight We Strike.”

Another highlight,  ‘Lucky Strikes,’ has a really good chorus about people with bad attitudes. ‘Some people make the best of what they’ve got and know a little varnish keeps it all shining others make the worst of what they’ve not and even find tarnish on a silver lining.”

That’s just one example of how poetic  Hannam’s lyrics are while retaining down home sensibility about small towns and small town characters.

It’s an upbeat,  crisply recorded, entertaining listen featuring some excellent background musicians in Tyler Bird on accordion and  mandolinist John Reischman playing some tasteful leads.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
CD: Queen’s Hotel
Artist: John Wort Hannam
Genre: folk/roots
Record label: Black Hen

Reddick knows his sidemen

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Toronto based bluesman Paul Reddick runs the gamut on his latest CD, ‘Sugar Bird.‘ There are almost  too many mellower numbers like ‘I Will Vanish,’ and ‘Blue Wing,’ a lot of New Orleans zydeco influence and  a couple upbeat horn powered jazz numbers like  ‘Devilment’ and  my favourite, ‘It’s Later Than You Think,’ as altwell as lots of harmonica based numbers. Reddick, who formed a wicked band in the early 90’s called the Sidemen, really knows how to pick his own sidemen. The cast of players includes producer  Colin Linden, the band’s  Garth Hudson on accordion on ‘Climbing Up The Hill,’ and ‘ Wishing Song,’ plus Bonnie Raitt’s bassist Hutch Hutchinson, crack Nashville drummer  Bryan Owings who plays with Emmylou Harris and Shelby Lynne and Blackie and the Rodeo Kings’ rhythm section (drummer Gary Craig, and  bassist John Dymond.) So these cats know how to play.
 Reddick’s voice is similar to fellow Northern Blues labelmate  Watermelon Slim. He carries beautiful melodies which just make you want to sing along, which helps make the slower numbers really enjoyable.
‘Every Temptation’ has some sweet acoustic guitar playing and some of Reddick’s harp playing.
More soulful harp playing and some slick slide guitar playing ends the CD on another cool upbeat number, “Block of Wood,” featuring Colin Linden. ‘Sugar Bird’ is a pleasant listen with some excellent playing.
— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Cd: SugarBird
Artist: Paul Reddick
Genre: blues/jazz
Record label: Northern Blues

Special Ops melds the rock

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Montreal heavy rock band Special Ops’ third CD, ‘Through the Heart of the Infidel’ is what you’d get if you’d mix Alice in Chains with System of a Down and stirred them up with a touch of Tool.
It starts with a jarring detuned riff on H.M and takes off from there. I like ‘Snakebite’ a lot. and ‘Hard Ass’ is very good as well. ‘Monster in Me,’ one of the Alice in Chains knock offs also stands out, mainly because of a very tasteful guitar solo. The vocals of that one are reminiscent of Big Wreck/ Thornley’s Ian Thornley.alt
The System of a Down influences  leaps out on ‘Anthem of Deceit’ and ‘Full Circle.’ which has a tortured guitar solo.
I like the  cool opening riff of ‘Pressure’  which even includes a bit of rap. There is even a little bit of Red Hot Chili peppers influence in a couple numbers.
 The CD moves quickly  thanks to unstoppable drumming, some cool bass and  some  catchy guitar. And before you know it the half hour is over and you want to hear it again. Very  raw and rocking as it should be, being produced  by Glen Robinson, who lists the likes of the Ramones, AC DC, Nashville Pussy and Voivod on his résumé. Solid.
— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
CD: Through the Heart of the Infidel
Band: Special Ops
Genre: heavy rock
Record company: Indie

Harp madness with Carlos Del Junco

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If you have even cursory interest in blues harmonica playing, do yourself a favour and check out Havana born, Toronto based Carlos Del Junco — first check out his CD  ‘Steady Moving,’ then his show at the Geomatic Attic, March 28. The mostly instrumental CD is impressive with stunning chromatic melody lines on his 10 hole harmonica , lots of mind blowing playing and note bending.

 altDel Junco drops the names of numerous Canadian communities in “Mashed Potatoes Canada,” a tribute to James Brown.

The first track, ‘Diddle it’  features some of Del Junco’s hottest harp licks backed by some steady stand up bass.

His version of ‘Amazing Grace is pretty sweet and features some of his patented harp note bending and ’overblowing.’

He plays the blues, jazz and more exotic things like on  “Simple Life,” he’s backed by a tight though understated band, who are content to sit back and let Del Junco shine, adding laid back slide guitar and the odd bass.

‘Bye For now,’ features an intricate, almost classical riff infused over something you might hear in a dirty old hillbilly bar, then slows right down.

The last track ‘Doodle it’ features some  a down home banjo solo, while featuring a wicked descending riff. Very cool. Interested in harp playing? Just talk to Carlos.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat editor
CD: Steady Movin’
Artist: Carlos del Junco
Genre: blues
Record Label: Northern Blues
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