Saturday, October 15, 2011

Mark T. Small -- "Blacks, Whites & The Blues"

This Mark T. Small cd is a small gem of acoustic guitar fire. If you are a fan of Mississippi John Hurt or Mississippi Fred McDowell, or the country music of Doc Watson or Leo Kottke, or any well-played acoustic guitar music this is musical nirvana.

Mark has been playing guitar for over 40 years. He started out in Massachusetts, playing fiddle tunes on the guitar in the styles of Doc Watson and Norman Blake, which led in 1981 to Mark joining a Newgrass Band called the Brown County Band. In the late 80s Mark started his own Chicago style blues band, The Lonesome Strangers, and they played the New England club circuit for over a dozen years. In 2000 Mark began to pursue a solo career, focusing on combining the fast clean flat picking bluegrass style and the soulful acoustic guitar blues music from the early 1900-1950s. This is Mark's third cd, after 2009's "Screamin’ & Cryin’ the Blues"(which hit # 19 on the National Living Blues Charts), and his 2007 self-titled debut disc.

This cd only one original Small song, "Boogie Woogie Guitar Man," but he sparkles as he plays a bounty of well-chosen covers, and plays them very well. The opener will sell you on the whole disc--Muddy Water's "Trouble No More" with a full-blooded guitar and a fabulous funky rhythm. Highlights include the Billy Smythe, Scott Middleton, Art Gillham "Hesitation Blues," the traditional song "Old Gray Mare," a beautiful presentation of Scott Joplin's "Solace," Mississippi Fred McDowell's "A Few More Lines" and a very nice acoustic take on Roy Hawkins & Rick Darnell's "The Thrill Is Gone." The entire cd is acoustic with one exception--an excellent cover of John Lee Hooker's "Bang Bang Bang Bang."

All in all, a very listener-friendly disc, chock full of beautiful guitar work. This is one of those "invite 'em" discs--play this cd for your friends who say they don't like blues. 45 minutes later you'll find a new blues fan.

This cd is an Indy release. You can buy this cd at I-Tunes.

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