Doug MacLeod

Doug MacLeod
The Blues In Me, Live In Concert

Black and Tan Records

By Art Tipaldi
December 2007

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Armed on any night with only his National steel and a pocketful of stories, MacLeod is worth an evening’s commitment.

Before the first song, he warns that the night is being filmed so if you’re with someone you shouldn’t be seen with, now’s the time to leave.

Before the second song, he passes along the instructions to make the black cat bone to the Dutch audience.

Throughout the performance, MacLeod honors Ernest Banks, an important blues mentor. He tells the audience: “Ernest Banks gave me some of the best advice I ever had, not only about the blues, but about how to live my life. He told me, ‘Don’t ever play a note you don’t believe. That’s how you live your life too. Don’t ever say anything you don’t believe’.”

Bare-boned blues is how MacLeod delivers his musical vision. When he plays, MacLeod’s heavy thumb plucks, crashing chords, shrill treble and silvery slide tones all swirl behind his lonesome nighttime blues walk.

The filming nicely alternates between long shots of MacLeod on the bare stage, and close-ups of his exquisite finger picking. MacLeod's vocals, which effortlessly coast from falsetto to gruff old man, possess a low pitched strength perfectly suited to the personal narratives he recounts.

MacLeod’s finger picking tour de force is “The New Panama Limited,” a song that measures up nicely to the first version of Bukka White’s song I heard by Tom Rush in 1966.

After the 11-song, 95- minute Sunday concert, MacLeod also packs in almost two hours of extras. First there are question-and-answer segments during which he talks about everything blues - from his songs to life on the road.

That segment is followed by an eight-segment section where MacLeod recalls stories of his experiences with Honeyboy Edwards, Big Joe Turner, Pee Wee Crayton, and George “Harmonica” Smith. From Smith, MacLeod recalls his ‘Don’t give ‘em any more money, Dub,’ advice before he opens the second part with “Home Cooking.”

The only drawback is that there are no song chapters to the concert, only “First Part” and “Second Part.” So if you want to listen to “The New Panama Limited,” at the end of the First Part chapter, you’ve got to manually fast forward to that spot. If you hit the skip button, you go right to the Second Part.

However, minor glitch aside, those who know MacLeod will appreciate the chance to hear his blues over and over.

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