Blues Bytes

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December 2019

Zac Harmon
Mississippi BarBQ

Catfood Records

Zac Harmon

Mississippian blues singer and guitarist Zac Harmon brings it all back home with his latest release, and first for Catfood Records, Mississippi BarBQ. At first glance, the marriage between Harmon and Bob Tranchard’s label would be a heaven-made one, and upon further viewing it certainly proves to be. Harmon has always been most adept at blending contemporary blues with soul blues and he’s certainly in his element here, collaborating with Trenchard and others on eight dynamite originals, with contributions from other gifted songwriters on three other tracks.

Harmon is backed by Trenchard (bass) and the Catfood House Band --- the Rays (Richy Puga – drums, Johnny McGhee – guitar, Dan Ferguson – keys, Mike Middleton – trumpet, Andy Roman – alto sax, Nick Flood – tenor/baritone sax, and Drake Dominigue – trombone/tuba) --- on the 11 tracks, which touch on blues, soul, funk, and R&B. “Gypsy Road,” the catchy opener, touches on rock and funk, and the horn-fueled soul-blues burner “So Cold” would be a good fit on the radio.

Meanwhile, “Smoke and Mirrors” ventures into blues-rock territory with a funky backdrop, and the delightful “Mississippi BarBQ” is a gentle, laidback R&B/soul confection that captures perfectly the feel of a downhome family BarBQ, down to the smell of ribs and chicken on the grill.

Harmon narrates a story of a brief encounter on the contemporary blues tale, “Desperate Love,” gets down and dirty with guest harmonica master Bob Corritore on the rollicking “Honey Pleez,” and gets funky with “A Dollar Out of 15 Cents” (the latter two tracks with backing from his own band --- Corey Carmichael – keys, Chris Gipson – bass, Ralph Forrest – drums, and Texas Slim – rhythm guitar). “Sunday Morning After Saturday Night” is a smooth urban blues track with Texas Slim adding B.B.-esque guitar work.

On “Lord Save Me From L.A.,” Harmon tells the tale of a recent arrival to the City of Angels, who laments being thrown into the crush of people, technology, and the relentless fast pace of the city. Though not written by Harmon, it sounds a bit autobiographical. “Since You Been Gone” is a mid-tempo R&B track that finds Harmon backed by his regular band and backing vocalists Janelle Thompson, Shakara Weston, and SueAnn Carwell, who, along with Carmichael, provide splendid backing throughout. The album closes with a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Knocking On Heaven’s Door,” an outstanding version of the oft-covered classic that gives it a gospel/soul feel.

Mississippi BarBQ is an excellent kickoff for Zac Harmon on the Catfood Records label. Hopefully, it is just the beginning of a beautiful relationship that will last a long time.

--- Graham Clarke


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