Blues Underground Network
Harpdog Brown "Naturally"
When I first put "Naturally" into the CD Player, I was thoroughly convinced I was going to be treated to a Harpfest, which to my astonishment was not the case, none the less, I was still far from being disappointed about that fact, once I got into this great new release from Harpdog Brown.
The Blues has been part of Harpdog Brown's life for some 30 years now, of which he has shared the stage with many greats including, "Matt “Guitar” Murphy, Pinetop Perkins, Tim Williams, Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne, The Powder Blues Band, Willie MacCalder, Jack de Keyzer, Fathead, Donald Ray Johnson, Morgan Davis and the late Dutch Mason", to name a few. Harpdog is Canada's only recipient of the Muddy Award in which he won it in the category of Northwest Recording for his album “Home Is Where the Harp Is”. That album was also nominated for a Juno Award in 1995 for Best Blues Album. "Naturally" marks the release of his 4th Album and features the amazing Graham Guest on Grand Piano, as well as Backing Vocals.
Graham Guest is absolutely no stranger to the Canadian Music Scene and has already accomplished a impressive resume for just only having been a professional musician for 15 years. "Graham Guest is an Edmonton-based musician, singer, songwriter and producer", and already had a 8 year stint with Sue Foley as her Organ and Piano player. He has played with many award winning artists including E.G. Kight, Sean Carney (2007 International Blues Challenge), and Big Dave McLean, to name a few. Besides his many other skills, he is also an active radio host for CJSR radio in Edmonton. Graham Guest was chosen for "Naturally" after touring with Harpdog Brown for over a year. The choice of Graham Guest, according to Harpdog Brown, was a no-brainer.
"Naturally" consists of 10 great Tracks, and contains a few more Originals and some good Classic Covers. Among the Classic cuts were the opening Track I Had My Fun, a fine song written by Jimmy Oden and one in which shows off Harpdog's great Vocals and Harp work and along with Graham Guest on Piano, one gets a pretty good idea of what their into with the rest of this album.
Track 2 is called Blue Light Boogie, and is credited to Dave Bartholomew and Jessie Mae Robinson and is basically the point on this album where Harpdog's amazing Vocals and Graham Guest's equally amazing Piano work start taking over, leaving the Harmonica aside to be used only sparingly, except for the last Track.
The remaining Classic cuts were Tracks 7 thru 10 and included Saturday Night Fish Fry (Al Carters/Louis Jordan/Ellis Walsh), Ain't Misbehavin' (Thomas Waller/Andy Razaf), Tell That Woman (Willie Dixon), and Movin' Down Side The River Rhine (Rice Miller). Saturday Night Fish Fry "was first recorded by Eddie Williams and His Brown Buddies, which featured the talk-singing vocals of Ellis Walsh." "The original 1929 recording of "Ain't Misbehavin'", by Fats Waller received the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1984, and it was one of fifty recordings selected for inclusion in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress in 2004 ."
On Track 9, Tell That Woman, Harpdog Brown is accompanied with the great Background Vocals of Gordie Matthews and along with Graham Guest, they do a wonderful job with this Willie Dixon gem.
Track 10, Movin' Down Side The River Rhine, is all Harpdog Brown as it is just him, his Vocals and his Harp. It is 3 minutes and 21 seconds of shear Harpdog Heaven.
Tracks 3 thru 6 were made possible via 2 of Harpdog's close friends Brandon Isaak and Wayne Berezan granting him permission to record a couple of their masters each, I'll Make it Up To You/I Only Gamble On Love (Brandon Isaak) and Fine Little Girl Rag/Sacrifice (Wayne Berezan). Brandon Isaak, whom is also known as Yukon Slim and is a member of The Twisters, often teams up with Harpdog Brown of which you can find a few of their vintage style video's on YouTube. I'll Make it Up To You introduces the great Clarinet work of Brian Coughlin, whom along with Harpdog, Graham, and Gordie, are the only performers on "Naturally".
"Naturally" came across a one mighty fine album and truly did a wonderful job of bringing some of the great music from the past back into the new light of the future. Even the more modern stuff by Isaak and Berezan, still fit into this album perfectly with their vintage feel. One thing which stood out as a certainty was the fact that if Harpdog Brown had ever lost the ability to play the Harp, he really would not have to worry much, not with the amazing Vocals he possesses. As for Graham Guest and his Piano playing, his star will only continue to shine brighter with his brilliant talent.
"Naturally" was a great introduction to Harpdog Brown, for me and although I am not familiar with his other albums I still believe this may be one of his best, so far.
Great work by all involved on "Naturally", an album that I have no problem Highly Recommending.
Review by John Vermilyea (Blues Underground Network)
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