Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Bluesman Tim Gartland releases Million Stars


New Release From Triple-Threat Bluesman Tim Gartland

Tim Gartland doesn't like to play loud.

He likes to hear himself and the musicians around him, and wants his audience to be able to take in the subtleties of the music, the lyrics, the tones.  I suspect he may even want them to be able to share a word of appreciation between his well-penned verses.  For a blues musician, particularly a harmonica player, this is rare.  Trust me on this, I know.

Singer/songwriter/harp player Tim Gartland is a rare breed, indeed. After being bitten by the blues bug at a Muddy Waters show as a young teenager in Ohio, he soon found himself in Chicago, playing harmonica with the likes of Bo Diddley, Carey Bell, Big Jack Johnson and Pinetop Perkins. Tim became increasingly interested in songwriting, and began writing melodic songs with relevant lyrics and elegant, funny turns of phrase.

Tim moved to Boston in 1991, where he became a well-respected player in the burgeoning Boston blues scene.  He became a founding member, lead vocalist and harmonica player for popular group The Porch Rockers, who released three CDs.  In 1998, he was a finalist in the Boston Blues Challenge.  In 2011 Tim wrote and published an instructional book entitled, "The Talking Harmonica," and launched a teaching career, becoming the first harmonica instructor at the prestigious Winchester Community School.

Tim embarked on his solo recording career with the 2011 release of the critically acclaimed "Looking Into the Sun".

Tim became a skilled harmonica player fairly quickly. And somewhere along the way, he became a first-rate singer and songwriter with a supple baritone and a very specific idea about how his songs should sound.  On MILLION STARS, Tim is surrounded with exactly the right musicians and producer/engineer to bring his vision to life. Tim's organ/piano player and songwriting partner, Tom West, has long been regarded as a key player (pun unavoidable, sorry) on the Boston scene, gracing stages and recordings with Susan Tedeschi, Peter Wolf, and many more. Producer/engineer/guitarist Chris Rival has been the hands and ears behing some of the best-sounding, most soulful recordings to come out of the Boston area — including Paul Rishell and Annie Raines, Peter Wolf, Susan Tedeschi and many more.  Drummer Forrest Padgett (Charlie Musselwhite) and bassist Paul Justice are well-respected longtime staples on the scene.

One of the first things to strike the listener about MILLION STARS is the sonority of the performance and the production;  nothing is fighting for sonic space, the instruments and voice nestle comfortably together so your feel like you're in the room with them, and glad to be there. The players are all tasty and relaxed, which lets them cover a variety of grooves and feels — mid-tempo shuffle, funky R&B, strutting "Exile on Main Street" era Stones, driving down-tempo blues, haunting ballads — and bring them all under the same umbrealla.

Then you start absorbing the lyrics, which are real-world meaningful, funny, ironic and clever.  The bouncy opener "Let Me Keep the Dog" (also the first radio single) puts the spoils of a broken relationship into perspective, while "Mess Me Up" states "I could use some attention/from someone with bad intentions", and the title track has the classic line, "If you'd just extract our head from your behind / you'd see a million stars that can shine."  "I Should Have Cared Less" is a heartbreaking ballad worthy of an aritst like John Hiatt.

A fine harp player, Gartland keeps it concise, then stretches out and nails it in a few different harp positions when the song calls for it.  He favors an acoustic sounding, undistorted tone on most of the tracks, though he does occasionally pay homage to his Chicago influences, particularly the intrumental "Tippin' Time" and the straight ahead blues "I Can Add".

It is my distinct pleasure to introduce you to Tim Gartland.

                    — Richard Rosenblatt, VizzTone label group/Vizzable Music


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