Friday, August 8, 2014


Far too many blues albums feature playing and performing as the priority, while actual content is secondary.  The lyrics especially can just be a run of cliches, the ideas no more than a single phrase expanded into three verses and ten solos.  Beats me why some feel that's okay; all the originators had tons to say, and inventive ways to do it.  Even when they were stealing songs, they were rewriting them in their own style.  But there are few current blues lyricists who are celebrated.

Words are one of the several strengths of Owen Sound, Ontario's MacKenzie Blues Band.  That job in the group falls to lead singer Tara MacKenzie, who takes the job very seriously.  Blues music has changed a lot since 'you done me wrong' was the chief theme, but it's still blues, and hard times and feelings drive the stories.  MacKenzie has invested a lot in the words, which are personal stories, tough times and confusion, things she's experienced or watched others go through.  I Feel A Storm Coming On is a major song, an epic at eight minutes, and a powerful, dark confession that builds over the course of the song.  Whipping everything into a frenzy is the scary guitar of Trevor MacKenzie, Tara's husband.  His playing isn't the usual blues chords and solos; instead there's big noise, feedback, funky leads, and general nastiness.  Tara has a big voice with lots of range, and Trevor plays to her vocals, each driving the other on, with Joel Dawson on bass and Mike Weir on drums keeping the flow going.

The MacKenzie Blues Band won the Maple Blues Award earlier this year for Best New Group for their debut disc, Back Road Revolution.  Slam! Bam! shows they've picked up a lot of confidence in a relatively short time, and have the smarts to do it their way as well.

1 comment:

  1. I've followed this band since their inception. They are breaking new ground and ruffling some feathers among Blues traditionalists.