Rattlebag (Northern Blues)

Reviewed by Eric Steiner

Toronto's Paul Reddick + the Sidemen are a blast of fresh, new blues from our Canadian neighbors to the North on their new Northern Blues CD, Rattlebag. If most of Rattlebag has that pre-war blues patina, the field recordings captured by Alan Lomax for the Library of Congress inspired Reddick. Rattlebag features 16 impressive harp-driven cuts. "Sleepy John Estes" and "Pinegum" more than repay the debt owed to Lomax' groundbreaking work, and long-time Canadian bluesman and producer Colin Linden contributes on guitar, dobro and harmony vocals. There's more than a nod to Howlin' Wolf on "Smokehouse" and the title cut, but Paul Reddick's harp honors one of the giants of twentieth century blues, and he's got the shoutin' sound down, complete with harp playing that would make Mr. Chester Burnett (AKA Howlin' Wolf) proud. Consider Rattlebag as a new textbook in your blues education, a sort of graduate seminar courtesy of the rich history of the blues, ranging from the Mississippi Delta, up to Chicago, and farther still up to Toronto. I'd be remiss not to mention the artwork on Rattlebag, designed by the pictures, layout and colors have a blues feel best captured in the photos of Greg Marshak on bass, Kyle Ferguson on guitar, and Vince Maccarone behind the drum kit. Of course, there are also great shots of Paul Reddick blowing his Hohner Marine Band harmonica, and producer Colin Linden in a snappy Fedora.

Track List:

P.R. Jubilee * Sleepy John Estes * Pinegum * King O' The Zig-Zag * One Way Trip * Pearl River Blues * Blind River Bound * Trouble Again * Scufflewood * Dreamin' * Rattlebag * 06/19 * Smokehouse * Elizabethville * I'm A Criminal * Tumblin' Down

© 2001 - Eric Steiner