Blues Bytes


February 2008

an associate

Moreland & Arbuckle
NorthernBlues Music

Moreland and ArbuckleMoreland & Arbuckle play a compelling brand of blues that blends the best of Hill Country, Rural, and Mississippi Delta blues into a primal and potent mix. Having previously recorded an acoustic and an electric album, their NorthernBlues Music debut, 1861, features electric and acoustic prominently.

The duo consists of guitarists Aaron “Chainsaw” Moreland and harmonica player/singer Dustin Arbuckle, with occasional assistance from drummer Brad Horner, Chris Wiser on Hammond B-3, and Jeffrey Eaton on homemade “gas tank bass” on one track.

The opening cut, a seriously juiced take of Hound Dog Taylor’s “Gonna Send You Back To Georgia,” threatens to blow the doors off. The follow-up, “Fishin’ Hole” is a whimsical tune inspired by Moreland taking his kids fishing. The gentle rhythms of “Tell Me Why” recalls the moody Hill Country sound of Mississippi Fred McDowell, but the groove picks up fast and hard again with “Diamond Ring,” one of the best cuts on the disc.

Another Hill Country legend, R. L. Burnside, gets a nod with a spirited cover of “See My Jumper Hangin’ Out On The Line,” another standout track highlighted by a strong vocal by Arbuckle. “The Legend” is also a strong track, but seems a bit out of place here with its country-western twang. The next three tracks, all originals, feature Moreland’s slide guitar on “Never Far Behind,” his acoustic chops on “Teasin’ Doney,” and a Jimmy Reed shuffle on “Please, Please Mammy.”

Closing things out are an interesting cover of Ryan Taylor’s “Pittsburgh in the Morning, Philadelphia At Night,” Wrong I Do,” a gentle acoustic number, and “Wiser Jam,” an almost jazzy instrumental.

It's hard to believe, but the best merger of Mississippi Hill Country blues, Delta blues, and rural blues in years may come from a duo from Kansas. 1861 is an electrifying set that will earn a spot on your stereo's regular rotation for a long time with their fresh interpretation of old classics and new songs that fit seamlessly with the old. These guys mean business!

--- Graham Clarke


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