This writer first became aware of Travis ‘Moonchild’ Haddix from his recordings for the Ichiban label from the late 1980s to the mid 1990s as well as his songs, that found their way in the repertoire of such great singers as Artie ‘Blues Boy’ White. Playing the Cleveland R&B circuit, he had an opportunity to play with Johnny Taylor on the road, but raising a family took first place so he worked for General Motors and the Post Office for over 40 years.
When Ichiban folded, he started his own label, Wann-Sonn, and since 1998 has issued 8 albums, the latest, Daylight at Midnight, has just been remastered and repackaged by Earwig. With a pretty sizable band including a four piece horn section, Haddix presents ten new songs that illustrate his use of humor, irony and clever wording on a variety of blues themes of relationships as well as good and hard times. On the opening Word A Lie, he tells he isn’t telling his women a ‘word a lie, everything I say is true,” as he recounts allowing his women to move in and then how she was doing everything she could to get him out.
The title track is a reworking of the theme about strange things happening as they did when Travis’ moved into a new town and where there is daylight at midnight. Nine Behind, illustrates how clever he can be with a lyric with the song about the number nine, waking up at Nine, having 9 cups of coffee, call 9 different ladies and his woman from 1 to 9 is a 9 and then takes a solid guitar solo. Who Could I Be? is a soulful ballad with nice piano from Robert ‘Red Top’ Young who was in the late Robert Lockwood’s band, as Haddix sings if he could be anyone else who he would be, he would still rather be me.
One of Haddix’s main guitar influences is B.B. King, as his solos throughout this album show. One choice solo is during Way Back in the Country, where he recounts growing up and learning about the birds and bees and becoming a man. “Your Kind of Fool,” has a funky groove and the funk continues on What to Do, before returning to a more traditional blues style on Good Buddy Blues, about a friend where creates more problems than help for Travis. Haddix is a solid singer in the vein of a Bobby Bland and Artie White, although perhaps not having the range of the latter, as well as a solid guitarist. He benefits from a fine backing band although the horns provide a simple backdrop with their arrangements being most often simply backing riffs.
Having a number of Haddix’s albums (Ichiban and Wann-Sonn), I do not believe this is his best effort (check out the Wann-Sonn releases Milk & Bread and Blues From Staghorn Street, as well as the live European recording Mud Cakes). Still, Daylight at Midnight, is a very welcome addition to his body of recordings. For more information check out www.travishaddix.net or www.earwigmusic.com.
I received the review copy from either Earwig or a publicist handling their releases. This review originally appeared in the October 2008 Jazz & Blues Report, to which I have made a few minor changes. And here is some Travis Haddix from You Tube.