Tuesday, November 04, 2008

M.S.G.'s Mighty Fine Acoustic Blues and More

I preference my comments on the new CD by M.S.G. - The Acoustic Blues Trio, “Done Spoke My Mind,” by noting that the members are personal acquaintances of mine, who I have had the pleasure of seeing perform several times. Jackie Merritt and Resa Gibbs hail from the Tidewater area of Virginia while Miles Spicer hails from around Washington, D.C. I have known the multi-talented Miles Spicer from various D.C. Blues Society events including the jams where he would play the trap drums if needed. After the late Piedmont blues legend Archie Edwards passed, Miles was one of those who helped launch and establish the Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation and it was through the jams and other activities at the Barber Shop in Northeast Washington that the trio, M.S.G. took shape. It was a number of years ago when during a program conduced by the Barber Shop regulars at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival that this writer heard a spell-binding rendition of John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery” by Gibbs with Spicer’s accompaniment. Later I had the pleasure to hear the trio at the Barber Shop and delighted in the trio’s initial recording.

The present CD displays there maturation as performers, and songwriters. There are numerous pleasures to be experienced here including the marvelous vocals by all three and the very solid musicianship evident throughout. Despite being rooted in the blues, especially the Piedmont tradition, this album might be better termed as urban acoustic music insofar as there are healthy elements of the church, folk and other musical genres evident here. The church background is evident on the opening traditional “God Don’t Like It,” followed by Jackie and Resa’s “Mean Church People,” a jab at some close-minded church folk. “Resolution,” an original ballad by Miles and David Bird, has a lovely, soulful vocal by Resa with some marvelous harmonica from Jackie. Joel Bailes' “The Katrina Flood,” is a song in tradition of similar songs about other tragic events and even if the lyrics have some holes, the rousing chorus of “wasn’t that a mighty storm,” does come across powerfully. Jackie’s “Racetrack Blues” , sports some lively guitar from Miles with Resa enlivening the performance on rubboard, while “Penniless Rag,” is playful with Spicer evoking Blind Blake while Jackie is on the bones and Resa adds to the fun on rubboard and bicycle horn.

“It’s Always Something,” is a nice slow blues from Spicer and David Bird with a mesmerizing slide guitar riff, crying harp from Jackie and Resa singing compellingly. “Ain’t No Grave” is a field holler type performance by Resa with simple percussion backing, while “Come Back Baby,” credited as traditional is the Henry Townsend blues originally recorded by Walter Davis, again with a wonderful vocal from Resa. “Fast Food Mama,” is another entertaining, raggy blues from Jackie, with Resa on rubboard, followed by the brisk, skittle band blues “I Need More Trouble Like That,” with Miles taking the vocal, with Resa on kazoo. The ballad “Sometimes,” has some of an old-timey feel with Resa on strumstick as well as singing Jackie’s thoughtful lyrics. Back to the church for the closing two numbers, Resa’s a capella rendition of “Go Down Hannah,” followed by Reverend Gary Davis’ “I Heard the Angels Singing.” There is a lot of heart and feeling throughout these performances that is always entertaining and usually quite moving. In addition to the wonderful music, the CD packaging by Jackie Merritt is stunning. This is available on cdbaby.com or check their website, www.acousticbluesmsg.com for information on how to order.

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