Jock’s Juke Joint: Contemporary Blues From Scotland Vol. 2
Lewis Hamilton Music
BluesWax Rating: 9 out of 10
Scotland Trailblazes the Best in British Blues and Beyond
This is the second release of the top Scottish blues talent following the highly acclaimed first volume, universally rated as one of the best compilations made in 2012, taking the listener on a roller coaster ride of blues styles and emotions. However, Volume 2 can now claim this accolade because it is even better, not least because of the sensational collaboration between Scots harp legend Fraser Speirs and young gun Lewis Hamilton. The instrumental “There You Are Now” is reminiscent of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee at their peak, albeit in mellow mood, with harmonica and guitar in perfect synergy.
Another key factor contributing to the brilliance of the second volume is the continuing theme of superb harmonica playing on most of the 18 tracks. One of the leading exponents of this instrument is Richard Young, an Englishman now residing in Scotland, whose “Confidence Man” is a tour de force performance. Other harp giants include the Blues ‘n’ Trouble frontman Tim Elliott (“Try Anything Twice”), Danny Williams of The Kennel Wages (“Fighting Over You”), Ali Davies from The Binsness Bluesboys (“Crawdad Hole”), and Cameron Grey, who accompanies the excellent Jed Potts and the Hillman Hunters on”Don’t Tell Me.” Potts is a versatile guitarist who sounds like he was born in the Mississippi Delta but is also an accomplished folk musician with the renowned Jake Cogan Band.
Further high spots include Alan Sutherland’s piano playing on Wang Dang Delta’s “Shutting Out The World,” the earthy vocals of Cynthia Gentle’s “You Just Can’t Win” accompanied by the subtle rhythms of The Truetones, and John Alexander’s acoustic slide guitar and fingerpicking on “Nowhere To Go.” Folk-blues is represented by the eight-piece band The Black Diamond Express, swing from Baby Isaac, and old-school R&B courtesy of The Blueswater. Then there are the cool licks and hot riffs of The Lynsey Dolan Band, the soulful acoustics of Hot Tin Roof, and the unique progressive blues of Earl Grey and the Loose Leaves. The 4 Als, including guitarists Nimmo and Brown, and multi-talented Dougie Burns represent the long-serving stalwarts whilst Leah Gourley is the promising newcomer.
And within this variety lies the beauty and power of this entirely original offering, a surprise package and cornucopia of contemporary blues artists discovered by respected journalist Duncan Beattie on his travels. The CD has been lovingly produced by Lewis Hamilton whose father Nick takes the credit for the professional and creative photography and lay out. All in all, Jock’s Juke Joint is an important concept which shows how the genre is thriving in Scotland as the indomitable spirit of luminaries such as the late Tam White, Frankie Miller, Maggie Bell, Ian Anderson, and Jack Bruce lives on within the country’s contemporary blues scene. Indeed, it is far more than that as each of the current generation of bluesmen and women represented here adds a fresh, distinctive and innovative approach and sound which is widening the appeal of the blues in the 21st century by taking it in a new direction.
Dave Scott is a contributing writer at BluesWax.
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