Tuesday, April 19, 2016

M.S.G. Acoustic Blues Trio - The Flood

While M.S.G. Acoustic Blues Trio, has issued their fourth recording, "The Flood," which was produced by Cathy Fink and wonderfully recorded by Jim Robeson with appearances by Cathy Fink, Phil Wiggins, David Jackson, Ralph Gordon and others. M.S.G. consists of Jackie Merritt (vocals, harmonica, uke bass, soprano uke and guitar); Miles Spicer (vocals and guitar); and Resa Gibbs (vocals, washboard,cigar box strumstick, bike horn and bells). Jackie Merritt did the marvelous graphic design and cover art.

I have known Miles for years as a member of the D.C. Blues Society, and Jackie and Resa as M.S.G. started performing after meeting at the late Archie Edwards' Barbershop. I have had the pleasure of attending their concerts and house parties and have observed how wonderful performers they are. On this latest release they revisit songs they have recorded before, such as Resa's riveting rendition of John Prine's "Angel From Montgomery," along with new songs, some from the pens of Miles and his collaborator David Bird, and dome from Jackie Merritt.

The title track from Miles and Bird is a driving trio number followed by Jackie's original "Money Makes You Crazy."  Her vocal here is supported by harmonies from Resa and Miles as well as the trio's hand jive. Resa sings wonderfull on a fresh acoustic reworking of Fats Domino's "Going to the River." It is followed by a stunning rendition of Son House's "Grinnin' In Your Face." Backed by just her strumstick, she does not sing with the fervency of House's rendition, but her deliberate, well-paced rendition perhaps lead to the lyrics hitting deeper. Contrast this superb interpretation this to Tom Waits awful mimicry of House's "John the Revelator" on a recent Blind Willie Johnson tribute album.

Miles sings a lively updating of the late Archie Edwards' "I'm Down Today," about the sun going to sun shine on my back door some day;" while there a string-band, washboard feel on Jackie Merritt's "Front Porch Blues," a song remembering older and simpler days. Resa has a stunning a cappella vocal on the lament, "New Familiar," that Jackie Merritt wrote. There are also wonderful traditional performances of gospel numbers, "I'll Fly Away," and "Glory, Glory Hallelujah." Phil Wiggins adds his harmonica to that of Jackie on the latter number and also on a hauntingly beautiful harmonica duet rendition of "Amazing Grace," that leads into "Glory, Glory Hallelujah."

Frank Matheis' on the back cover describes the music of M.S.G. Acoustic Blues Trio as "a lovely amalgam of folk-roots-spirituals-blues." While their prior recordings have been excellent, I believe that "The Flood," with superb vocals and marvelous backing, is their finest recording.

I received my review copy from the group. Here is a rendition of "Angel From Montgomery."

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