Sunday, August 22, 2010

Kashmar & the Pontiax Sound Solid Blue Two Decades Later

I was not familiar with Mitch Kashmar until his fine recent Delta Groove releases. But he has been playing and singing the blues for several decades and Delta Groove has just issued Mitch Kashmar & the Pontiax’s 1989 LP “100 Miles To Go,” that shows he was no overnight sensation. In the notes he states that there were three versions of the Pontiax, but the trio of guitarist, Jon Lawton, bassist ,Jack Kennedy and drummer, Tom Lackner were in all versions while guitarist and saxophonist Bill Flores joined for this band which took the group on the road. With the original ten songs, two new ones have been recorded minus Lawton. The liner booklet quotes both William Clarke and Kim Wilson from 1989, and this writer makes the assumption the quotes were on the original vinyl release and listening to this recording.

Certainly one can understand the enthusiasm Clarke and Wilson had about this band and recording. Kashmar & the Pontiax, based on this recording were turning out strong blues in the vein of Clarke, Wilson, Rod Piazza, James Harman and Mark Hummel. Kashmar’s music perhaps bears the strongest similarity with the robustness of his vocals and his harp playing, and his band was, and is, terrific. From the opening notes of the jumping “Night Creeper,” where Kashmar sings about his partying ways to the closing notes of his topical “The Petroleum Blues,” the music is of a high level with good songs and great playing. Two instrumentals showcase Kashmar’s ample harp chops, with William Clarke’s “Horn of Plenty,” being a choice harp duet as Clarke guests here. Kashmar’s interpretation of “Long As I Have You,” a Willie Dixon song, stands up to Little Walter’s original to indicate how good the music can be. Fans of Kashmar’s earlier discs will wonder why it took him so long to get established, but in any event, just enjoy.

For FTC purposes, the review copy of this was sent by a publicity firm for Delta Groove.

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