Various Artists

Various Artists
The Future of The Blues – Volume III

Northern Blues – NBM0300

By Georgetown Fats
May 2009

Fred Litwin and his Northern Blues Music Company have a certain je ne sais quoi. It will not surprise this reviewer when Litwin will be held in as high esteem and respect as Bruce Iglauer, if he’s not there already.

This 15-track sampler opens with “Blues For Howard,” which is the opening track of the 2007 Northern Blues release No Paid Holidays by Watermelon Slim and the Workers. Slim & The Workers pride themselves on towing the line between tradition and innovation, and “Blues For Howard” is a great example of that feel. Slim and the Workers also show up later on the sampler with two unreleased tracks: “Blue Freightliner” and “Dumpster Blues.” If these are unreleased tracks, it is clear to see why Slim continues to win accolades and awards throughout the blues community.

The second track, “Make a Better World,” by Doug Cox and Salil Bhatt successfully mixes elements of traditional Indian Music with blues. It is an adventurous track, which somehow works. Cox successfully mixes vocals and resonator with Bhatt on satvik veena (think 20 stringed Indian guitar.) Few labels would have the cache to release this track. If “Make a Better World” is a true representation of the music on Slide to Freedom, then I highly recommend the disc for those who appreciate boundary- breaking music.

“Penny Waiting on Change” by the Homemade Jamz Blues Band is next up. The Homemade Jamz are darlings of blues podcasters and are billed on the Northern Blues site as “The Youngest Blues Band” in America. Though they may become a commercial success, all three members need to get beyond their teen and ‘tween years before being taken seriously as a blues band.

Probably my favorite track out of The Future of The Blues-Volume III sampler is “Tell Me Why” by Moreland & Arbuckle. The 2005 International Blues Competition finalists have a stripped-down sound which is still full of power. Shortly after listening to “Tell Me Why” for the first time, a copy of the disc was ordered and the delivery is eagerly anticipated.

Illustrating how he has been influenced by Americana and folk music, chromatic harp virtuoso Paul Reddick takes a curious turn with “Breathless Girl.” Carlos Del Junco offers a fantastic harp-centric boogie with “Diddle It,” and J.W. Jones offers up some tasty swing blues with “Tickets on Yourself.”

If The Future of The Blues-Volume III sampler is an active representation of the actual future of the blues, then thank you Mr. Litwin. The future is very bright.

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