Blues Bytes


Graham Clarke


Live Long Day (FreeNote Records) is the third release by the New York-based band Willie McBlind. This CD pays tribute to the train by sending the listener on a blues-fueled journey that is at times exhilerating, at times somber, at times powerful, at times haunting, and at all times interesting. The band’s roots are firmly planted in the Mississippi Delta, but they combine that with a harmonic blues sound using microtonally fretted and fretless guitars, capping it off with a powerful and effective vocal style, courtesy of guitarist/singer Jon Catler (one of the world’s best Harmonic guitarists) and vocalist/autoharp Meredith “Babe” Borden.

From the opening notes of Track One, “Sittin’ In The Train Station,” you know this one is going to be something special. Catler’s guitar work is breathtaking and the vocal harmonies are almost otherworldly. Catler’s guitar work is worth the price of admission as he swoops and soars through these songs (his slide work sounds amazing). The rhythm section of Mat Fieldes (bass) and Lorne Watson (drums) also do a fantastic job.

The disc includes ten tracks. The title cut and “Anywhere” have an almost ethereal quality (thanks to multilayered vocals by Borden). “Slow Moving Train” is more uptempo and rocks pretty hard. “One Thing” is a midtempo rocker with some interesting slide work mixed in, and “Down The Road” may be the most impressive song, sort of a cosmic rockabilly tune with some outstanding fretwork. “Boogie Train” is a close second, really serving as a guitar showcase for Catler.

The disc’s lone cover is of Robert Johnson’s “Love In Vain,” and, of course, Willie McBlind completely transforms it. Catler’s guitar electrifies the old tune and Borden gives the vocals a sultry edge.

I guarantee that Live Long Day is unlike anything you’ve heard on the blues circuit this year, featuring some of the most original and unique guitar work heard in a long time. Willie McBlind puts a totally new spin on the traditional sounds of the blues.


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