Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

MARK T SMALL

Smokin' Blues

2014-03-07

A Man, A Plan, A Guitar: Mark T Small. Guitarist/Singer Mark T Small has played with lots of famous people, but here he is mostly playing by himself - solo and acoustic. You'll hear a dozen songs that other artists made famous, and he plays and sings in a dozen different styles. He calls it "Delta Blues with a Chicago Blues slant" but you'll hear much more than that. He plays slide guitar, he flat picks, and he fingerpicks. He spent some years focused on "progressive newgrass." I don't know exactly what "progressive newgrass" sounds like, but if this guy was playing it he must have made it sound good.

"Step it Up & Go" features boogie-woogie picking and rockabilly vocals. "Sell My Monkey" is sure to raise the what-the-heck-am-I-listening-to question. Lyrics: Me and my baby had a falling out. People let me tell you what it's all about. She wants to sell my monkey.

"My Daddy Was A Jockey" is inspired by John Lee Hooker's "Jockey Blues" and offers a rocking good time. "Going Down Slow" takes it slower and easier. Stretch out, sit back, and have a listen.

"Buck Rag" is indeed a ragtime tune, and it will have you smiling. "Walking the Dog" is NOT a solo effort - Shor'ty Billups alternates verses. You'll also hear Walter Woods hop in on harmonica in "Moanin' At Midnight."

All the rest are worth listening to and sharing, and you could probably build a blues education around this disk. It raps up with "America Medley" as arranged by Mark T Small. You'll hear 4th of July and nostalgic favorites - America, Take Me Out to the Ballgame, Yankee Doodle Dandy, and then America again.  You don't have to wait for the fireworks show. You can play it anytime.

- Gerald Etkind

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

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