Monster Mike Welch

Monster Mike Welch
Just Like It Is

VizzTone-BGB Records

By Karen Nugent
January 2008

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We’re all familiar with the amazing story:

Native son Mike Welch made his blues debut at age 13, and blew audiences away with his virtuoso guitar playing.

Blues Brother Dan Aykroyd dubbed him “Monster Mike” at the opening of the first House of Blues club because of his young age and powerhouse playing.

Bob Margolin, another star guitarist - with Muddy Waters cred - was impressed enough to show Welch some of his mentor’s secrets.

And in three years, when Welch’s first disc was released (at age 16!) he had already played with the likes of Johnny Copeland, James Cotton and Junior Wells.

So it doesn’t seem all that weird, albeit kind of scary, to be calling Welch a blues veteran at age 28.

His latest disc, with 11 new originals and two covers, showcases Welch at his guitar-slinging best.

There’s plenty of searing guitar solos, most in pure blues style, although the opener, “She Makes Time,” an up-tempo number, has a fresh feel to it. The tune has a real good piano solo as well, by Anthony Geraci, one of four other band members on the disc. The lyrics are about Welch’s lady – my guess would be his sweet wife, Jeannette, who, by the way, is known to pitch in at the promotion table at various blues events. “She Makes Time” talks about a woman taking time out of her busy day to be with her man, not about making time with another man. Nice.

Two of best songs on the disc are “My Baby Loves Me,” a smoky, after-hours slow blues; and “Keep On Walking,” a shuffle with terrific lyrics and more fantastic guitar.

“I’m Gonna Move to Another Country,” is another raw blues about ditching the U.S. for a better job. Again, it features loud, outstanding guitar.

“Sticky Whisket” (whiskey? wicket? Maybe a combination of the two?) is another top tune, this one a fast moving instrumental, and that’s all you need.

Welch’s weakness is his sometime warbling vocals, which are a bit too high-pitched, almost in the Irish tenor category.

He sings best on one of two covers - Peter Green’s “Love That Burns,” another slow, heartbreak number. Welch also included Willie Dixon’s “I Got a Strange Feeling,” which has him delivering emotional guitar.

Besides Geraci, Welch is joined on the disc by Brad Hallen on bass, and Mark Teixeira on drums.

The new VizzTone Label Group is a collaboration by Margolin, Richard “Rosy” Rosenblatt, a Boston harp legend; and Chip Eagle, publisher of Blues Revue and Blueswax. Describing themselves as “slightly-grizzled music industry veterans,” they have released some of the best new and old blues around, including recordings and DVDs by Son Seals, Pinetop Perkins, David Gross, Gina Sicilia, and Margolin’s latest album, In North Carolina.

www.monstermikewelch.com

www.vizztone.com

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