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Wednesday, 18 December 2019 17:33

Big Dave McLean

Written by Roger Levesque
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Pocket Full Of Nothin’ (Black Hen Music)

After some 50 years in music, you would figure that Winnipeg blues institution Big Dave McLean has done it all. But his third Black Hen release is one of his finest, most-varied accomplishments yet.

Best known as an interpreter, he puts down nine new original songs and an irresistible range of grooves, complete with a horn section on most tracks.

From his opening homage to the tradition, Songs Of The Blues, McLean breezes through portraits of the fake and foolish, the celebratory jump-blues feel of All Day Party, love songs of the casual, crazed, solemn, and tender variety, and a spare, hometown tribute called Manitoba Mud. Covers include the roller-coaster When I Was Young and a bustling soul cooker of the Allmans’ Midnight Rider.

Beyond his own National steel, electric, and cigar-box guitars and harmonica, McLean’s vocals are frequently set to wake up the dead. Add Black Hen producer Steve Dawson with more guitars, bassist Jeremy Holmes, drummer Gary Craig, and Chris Gestrin’s keys, but the horn trio (Malcolm Aiken, Jerry Cook, Dominic Conway) takes it all to another level.

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