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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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Monday, February 20, 2017

Hal's Kitchen artist: Manitoba Hal - Live In Ghent - New Release review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Live In Ghent, from Manitoba Hal, and it's quite entertaining. This is a blues packed double CD featuring classic blues tracks presented primarily as Uke and vocal. Opening with Come On In My Kitchen, Hal uses a fairly traditional arrangement and his vocal styling is real cool. Add in Hal's acoustic accompaniment and you have a real cool track. The Ukulele work on Atlanta Moan is clean and cool. It has not been used much to my knowledge on recent releases but Ry Cooder's use of Uke on Goin' To Brownsville has always stuck with me and this track brings it to memory. Very nice. On Baby Please Don't Go, Hal uses some type of pairing device to duplicate and mimic the sound  he plays on Uke and it's really works well. His playing style is a bit more aggressive and with smooth vocals is very cool. Evangeline brings about some slide work and the sound is very interesting. Tight playing style and precision followed by a classic ballad melody makes this one of my favorites on the release.  Sweet Home Chicago is accelerated to double time and finger picked. A real barn burner and a release favorite. On St. James Infirmary, Hal is plugged and playing some really treacherous blues riffs. With classic vocal styling... a definite release favorite. Learned Pigs & Fireproof Women is a really cool track with wild lyrics and intricate instrumental backing. Excellent closer for disc one. 

Opening disc two is Ain't No Grave with a very somber approach. This is possibly one of the nicest vocal tracks on the release and the acoustic accompaniment is very nicely done as well. They're Red Hot has a really nice chorded intro which shows nice dimensionality. Breaking into rag style about half way through adds cool contrast to another of my release favorites. Key To The Highway really works well with Uke and Hal really works the vocals. A track that I have heard redone many times but this one still sounds fresh. With a bit of Elizabeth Cotton style, My Creole Belle, Hal blends New Orleans with country blues. This is a really interesting track and a cool addition. Wrapping the release is The Thrill Is Gone utilizing a slightly more laid back acoustic version on BB King's classic. Hal puts on a super show with his own approach to the blues. Very cool.

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