JUNE 28, 2012

by Sheryl and Don Crow

For their third CD, Willie McBlind pay tribute to the train with “Live Long Day,” ten cuts that take the listener on a unique journey that starts out deep in the Delta, then travels northward, coinciding with the Great Migration of the post-WWII years, finally culminating in a literal trip thru the clouds.  Released on May 12 to coincide with National Train Day, these cuts fuse the music of the Delta masters with jazz and elements of electronic music.

A definitive exercise in one possible direction the future of the blues could be headed, Willie McBlind are Jon Catler on guitar and vocals, Meredith “Babe” Borden (who trained at the New England Conservatory) on vocals and autoharp, Mat Fieldes on bass, and Lorne Watson on drums.  They bring an element of “Harmonic” blues to this set, with the use of fretless instruments, and a sixty-four note scale to create a sonic palette that not only stays true to the origins of the blues, but puts out a futuristic vibe that will appeal to many fans.  Check out Babe Borden’s upper-register vocals that are the perfect complement to Jon’s growling, almost-spoken word on “Slow Moving Train,” which can “crush a man to death,” or “take you far away” if you stay on long enough.  The leadoff “Sittin’ In TheTrain Station” has an early-Allman Brothers feel, while “Down The Road” and “Love In Vain” are rooted in the spirit of the Delta, and the latter features an outstanding vocal from Babe.  The set closes with the duet of “The Train That Never Came,” which segues’ into an electronic exercise of fusion-blues entitled “Train Cloud,” that sounds as if it were the train whistle that called Muddy, Junior, Pinetop, and countless others up home to blues heaven.

Willie McBlind are not afraid to delve into and explore the boundaries of the blues, and experiment with sounds that are not necessarily run-of-the-mill.  Plus, their extensive musical backgrounds give them a fresh perspective, and “Live Long Day” makes for an interesting, eclectic listen!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow

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