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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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Showing posts with label Big Dave McLean. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Big Dave McLean. Show all posts

Friday, December 20, 2019

Black Hen Music artist: Big Dave McLean - Pocket Full of Nothin' - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Pocket Full of Nothin', from Big Dave McLean and it has a great feel. Opening with Songs of the Blues, a strutting blues rocker with Big Dave on guitar and vocal, Steve Dawson on excellent slide guitar, Gary Craig on drums, Jeremy Holmes on bass, Chris Gestrin on piano, Malcolm on trumpet, Jerry Cook on bari sax and Dominic Conway on tenor sax. Solid opener. I really like McLean's expressive vocals on Backwards Fool with the National steel guitar behind for contrast and Aiken's muted trumpet as an accent. Very nice. Boogie track, Voodoo Music has a great groove and Dawson's tremolo over his slide work creates a cool shimmer. A strong, slower blues entry is Just To Be With You. McLean creates a real dark atmosphere with his powerful vocals and Dawson's slide work is tight and energized. Very nice. Wrapping the release is ballad, There Will Always Be A Change. With it's springy, country blues styling, McLean and Dawson set a perky pace on vocal and guitar and Aiken, Cook and Conway balance the track nicely with horns. 

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017


The Paul DesLauriers Band and Angel Forrest win multiple awards
The fast-paced performance rich gala featured a moving memorial tribute to the late John Mays (Fathead), Brian Cober and past Blues With A Feeling Award Winner Bob Walsh
(January 23, 2017) Toronto, ON – Canadian blues artists from coast-to-coast were honoured by their peers at the 20th Annual Maple Blues Awards gala in Toronto last night as a crowd of blues lovers gathered to celebrate Canadian blues at Koerner Hall.
Quebec blues artists swept the awards with honours going to trio The Paul DesLauriers Band who won Entertainer of the Year, Electric Act of the Year, Drummer of the Year for Sam Harrisson, and Bassist of the Year for Greg Morency. Blues belter Angel Forrest took home three awards including Female Vocalist of the Year, Recording/Producer of the Year and Songwriter of the Year. The Blues With A Feeling Award for lifetime achievement was awarded to Stephen Barry, who has been a fixture on the Quebec blues scene for over 40 years. Montreal-based Frankie Thiffault of Ben Racine Band took home the hardware for Horn Player of the Year.
British Columbia blues artists were well recognized with awards going to David Gogo for Guitarist of the Year, Harpdog Brown for Harmonica Player of the Year and Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne for Piano or Keyboard Player of the Year.
Other winners at the sold-out gala event were Manitoba’s Big Dave McLean for Acoustic Act of the Year, Ontario’s 17-year old newcomer Spencer MacKenzie for New Artist or Group of the Year, New Brunswick’s Matt Andersen for Male Vocalist of the Year, and Joe Bonamassa for International Artist of the Year.
Edmonton’s Cam Hayden, a long-time broadcaster on CKUA and co-founder of the Edmonton Blues Festival was presented with the Blues Booster of the Year award, a very special Maple Blues Award honouring outstanding contribution to the Canadian blues music industry.
In addition to the Maple Blues Awards, the third annual Cobalt Prize Contemporary Blues Composition Award was handed out last night to Ann Vriend for her song “All That I Can”, with runners up Michael Kaeshammer for his song “Sweet Grace" and The Harpoonist And The Axe Murderer for their song "Father's Son”. A cash prize of $1000 was presented to Vriend with second and third place winners each receiving $250, courtesy of the benefactor The Unicorn Project.
Hosted by Steve Marriner of MonkeyJunk, the 20th annual Maple Blues Awards included outstanding performances from nominees past and present, including Calgary’s Tim Williams, Toronto’s Sugar Brown and Shakura S’Aida, British Columbia’s Michael Kaeshammer and the evening’s big winners, The Paul DesLauriers Band along with the awards gala house band, The Maple Blues Band.
Winners of the 20th Annual Maple Blues Awards
The Paul DesLauriers Band
The Paul DesLauriers Band
Big Dave McLean
Matt Andersen

Angel Forrest
Spencer MacKenzie


Angel's 11 (Morningstar) Artist: Angel Forrest. Producers: Angel Forrest and Denis Coulombe

(Lifetime Achievement)
Stephen Barry
Joe Bonamassa
David Gogo
Harpdog Brown
Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne
Frankie Thiffault
Sam Harrisson 
Angel Forrest & Denis Coulombe
Cam Hayden

Monday, November 28, 2016

Black Hen Music artist: Big Dave McLean - Better The Devil You Know - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Better The Devil You Know, from Big Dave McLean and it's quite good! Opening with Life On The Road, Big Dave McLean has a casual, JJ Cale meets "Little Feat" easy blues feel joined by Steve Dawson on lead guitar, Gary Craig on drums, Jon Dymond on bass, and Kevin McKendree with cleverly stylistic piano. On Muddy Waters' You Can't Lose What You Never Had, McLean opens with fiery slide riffs and his vocals are raw. McKendree's piano really gives the track a Chicago sound with his piano work and acoustic guitar work by McLean and Dawson's eccentric slide work carries the track nicely. The traditional, You'll Need Somebody On Your Bond, gets a country two step remake with a warm intro by Ann and Regina McCrary. Dawson's dobro work and Fats Kaplin on fiddle add even further to the country / bluegrass edge. Uptempo, I Need You, is a cool country blues number and McClean pulls out the harp adding a more bluesy flavor to Dawson's dobro slide work. One of my favorites on the release is a remake of Old Time Religion which has a cool dark western sound. With Dawson on pedal steel and also contributing a sweet electric guitar solo, along with the McCrary sisters warm backing vocals, this track is way cool. With a country waltz sound, Swingin On Heaven's Gate is another real nice track with Dawson on mandolin and particularly nice vocal blending. Deliver Me has a really nice "Little Feat" funk. With the McCrarys on backing vocal and Dawson on slide, this track is really excellent. Wrapping the release is is a stripped down blues, Pet Rabbit, with McLean on vocal and and resonator. The track is raw and alive and a real cool closer for a cool release.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Black Hen Music artist: Big Dave McLean - Faded but Not Gone - New release review

I just received the newest release (March 3, 2015), Faded but Not Gone, by Big Dave McLean and it's gritty and solid. Opening with Tough Times, a 12 bar Chicago style blues track with Steve Dawson on National Steel guitar and Kevin McKendree on organ. On I Best Choose To Pick The Blues, McLean picks up the pace and Colin Linden contributes the smooth slide guitar. On Dead Cat On The Line with a bit of bluegrass influence and Piedmont style, McLean is joined on vocal by Dawson who also plays banjo. John Dymond adds bass, Gary Craig drums and Colin James some really tight mandolin work. On western style ballad, The Fallen, McClean takes the spotlight vocally backed by sweet electric and steel guitar work by Dawson. Very cool! Sittin' On A Fence has a light country 2 step feel. Double stop guitar riffs by Dawson are a really nice touch on this track. Don't Get Mad, Get Even is built over a 12 bar structure but has a much more contemporary feel and a catchy melody. The lyrics are certain to attract the crowds attention and McKendree rolls a nice piano solo to top things off. Devil's In The Jukebox has an easy country rock pace with slicing slide work from Dawson. McKendree never disappoints with his nimble organ solos rounding out this track. A Latin rhythm from Craig and hot slide work from Dawson, complimented by McKendree's tight piano work lead this track up to the bridge where McLean takes it to swing time and back. Tom Waits' Mr Siegal has a New Orleans blues feel with particularly effective drum work from Craig. The grittiness of McLeans vocals contrasted against Dawson on banjo and McKendree on organ make this one of my favorites on the release. Shades Of Grace is an easy country style folk tune with a nod to Amazing Grace. The McCrary sisters add some supple backing vocals on this track giving it extra warmth. Oh- Mr. Charlie - Oh has a number of the characteristics of an old gospel or slave song giving it an immediate bump up. I like this track a lot with it's rudimentary style, guitar work from Dawson and backing vocals from the McCrary sisters. McLean accompanies himself effectively on harp on this track as well. Wrapping the release is Skip James' Devil Got My Woman. Stripped down to only McLean on vocal and National steel guitar, this track maintains the feeling of the delta and a fitting conclusion to an adventurous release.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Canadian Blues Legend Big Dave McLean Is "Faded but Not Gone" on Label Debut CD for Black Hen Music, Due March 3

Big Dave McLean Is Faded but Not Gone on Label Debut CD for Black Hen Music, Due March 3

Producer Steve Dawson Assembles All-Star Cast to Back the Legendary Canadian Bluesman, Along with Special Guests Colin Linden, Colin James and The McCrary Sisters

NASHVILLE, TN – Black Hen Music announces the signing of legendary Canadian bluesman Big Dave McLean, and will release his label debut CD, Faded but Not Gone, on March 3. Produced by Black Hen label main-man Steve Dawson, who also adds his award-winning guitar talents throughout the album, Faded but Not Gone was recorded at The Henhouse in Nashville, Tennessee, and engineered by the acclaimed Bil VornDick. Besides Dawson, the all-star cast of players backing McLean for the sessions features Kevin McKendree (Delbert McClinton, Brian Setzer) on keyboards, John Dymond on bass and Gary Craig on drums. Special guests include Colin Linden, Colin James and The McCrary Sisters. The organic qualities of the music on Faded but Not Gone extended even to the cover shot, taken at the old school photo booth in Jack White’s Third Man Records store in Nashville.

The dozen tracks on the new CD include a healthy dose of Big Dave McLean originals, as well as cool covers of songs from Skip James (“Devil Got My Woman”), Tampa Red (“Dead Cat on the Line”), Tom Waits (“Mr. Siegal”), Ray LaMontagne (“Devil’s in the Jukebox”) and The Wood Brothers (“One More Day”), plus Dave’s gritty take on the traditional title song. Throughout the album, McLean’s well-worn vocals, soulful guitar playing and mean harmonica wails permeate each track with an authority and passion that is palpable.

“It has been an extreme pleasure and privilege to work alongside such incredibly talented and gifted musicians and singers,” said Big Dave McLean about the recording sessions. “I feel we set out to make a great recording, and we totally accomplished our goal.”

With a voice and delivery that recalls the great Long John Baldry, Big Dave McLean has been the heart and soul of the Winnipeg, Canada, music scene and been singing the blues better than anyone there for decades. A Juno and Western Canadian Music Award-winner, McLean channeled the recent loss of his mother and brother into a vital, deeply heartfelt expression of loss and recovery on the songs from Faded but Not Gone, making it his most personal album to date.

That soulfulness truly manifests itself in particular on two of Dave’s original compositions: “Shades of Grace,” a lovely and poignant tribute to his mother, who used to sing “Amazing Grace” to him when he was a child; and “The Fallen,” an elegy to his brother, who passed away the week before the song was recorded.  

“Everything about this project blew my mind – especially Steve Dawson,” recalled McLean. “Spending a week down in Nashville with his family was an amazing experience. I visited an old slave plantation, went to the Grand Ole Opry and sat in with Colin Linden’s regular jam session. I have always been into Delta blues and early Chicago blues, but it was nice to step it up and play in a more of a country blues style on songs like ‘Devil in the Jukebox’ and ‘One More Day.’ The whole experience touched me deeply.”              

Friday, July 6, 2012

Feel Like Going Home - Big Dave McLean

Big Dave McLean is finally getting his recognition, at an age when the rest of us are getting around to contemplating retirement. Only in the last decade or so has there been significant inroads into recording this definitive Canadian bluesman.

A masterful guitarist and top notch harpist, McLean’s raw and gravelly vocals bespeak of a life lived to the fullest, and a career spent performing in and around those countless small towns that dot the Canadian prairies. When it comes to the blues, however, McLean’s heart firmly beats to the ghosts of the delta greats--especially the incomparable Muddy Waters, with whom he toured over two decades ago. Just how important the Mojo Man was to the development of Big Dave can be gleaned in an 11-minute tribute, aptly titled ‘Muddy Waters for President’. Actually written for the dean of Chicago bluesmen, Muddy died before getting around to recording it.

McLean’s stage performances also identify him as one of the top bluesmen in Canada and what he knows about the business came to him from blues legends John Hammond Jr. and Muddy Waters. He started out on harmonica in the early '60s and had his first guitar lesson from John Hammond at the Mariposa Folk Festival in 1969. Hammond and Muddy Waters became Dave's lifelong musical heroes and friends. What did he learn from the masters? "Well you gotta be courteous," says McLean. "You know, Muddy Waters told me you can have the best guys in the world in your band, and if they gotta go, if they want to branch out and do their own thing, you’re not gonna stop them from doing what they’re destined to do. You might as well aid them along, help them out. And John (Hammond) was much the same, one of the most courteous gentlemen on this planet, you know, totally helpful, inspiring. You know both of them were just wonderful, wonderful men. I’m so pleased that I had the opportunity to even meet them."
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