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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Friday, March 2, 2012

Delta groove artist: Nathan James and the Rhythm Scratchers New Release: What You Make Of It - Review

I just got a copy of Nathan James and the Rhythm Scratchers new recording, What You Make Of It which will be released on March 20th. It's actually really cool! The recording consists of 14 tracks of which 10 are James originals. The opening track, Chosen Kind, The guitar work on this track is played on a self designed and made Tritar, made of a washboard and an axe handle. The sound is very raw and well suits the song with harp backing and vocals. The second track, the title track, What You Make Of It, is played on another self produced instrument called a baritone Washtar the song maintains a sound that is part wolf and part Texas Blues. Very strong. There is certainly a demonstration here that you don't have to have a 20,000 dollar guitar to make great music. The third track, a Blind Boy Fuller track, Black Snakin' Jiver is stripped down with basic instrumental background and a kazoo for lead soloing. Later On, a Jimmy McCrackin remake is a cool slower soul oriented blues track with really nice Washtar soloing demonstrating again how cool these rural instruments can be. Get To The Country is a story of being raised in a small rural town and done in influence of the great Furry Lewis. Make It On Your Own is written a a tribute to a friend, Steve White, another musician who had a similar one man band as James is sometimes known to do. White who recently passed away. You can tell there is a personal story being told here and it has a solitude to it's sound. If you don't know James' earlier work you may be wondering where this guy is coming from but he has been around the block plenty with 15 years professional musician experience with the likes of James Harman. Harman penned, sang and plays harp on this next track, Rhino Horn, and James takes time away from the mike to put out some cool Tri-tar riffs. Pretty Baby Don't Be Late is played on an acoustic National Resonator and kazoo. Has a great country rag time feel. Blues Headache finds bass player Troy Sandow stepping up on harp and doing a great job. It also gives James a chance to play some very cool Tri-tar slide. Possibly my favorite on the recording. Pain Inside Waltz shows how different styles of music can easily blend and make something pleasantly unexpected. Great tune. I'm A Slave To You is a 60's soul tune written by Bobby Patterson and James and the boys play it to the hilt with horns and all... this is a great tune. While in that 60's soul mode, James cranks out soul infused First And Most, a traditional soul style ballad. You Led Me On starts off with drums that are reminiscent of a marching band. The boys keep that groove going throughout the track with a stripped out blues tune with effective harp playing and sporadic singing. It ends in a great swing boogie, Chicago style. The final track, Tri-tar Shuffle Twist is a really cool instrumental featuring James on slide Tri-tar. It starts out as a loping shuffle but ends getting a nice gallop to it before the end. This is a very cool album with more polish than it may sound like from my description but much less polish than what you might expect from a major production.

Great job!
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