TRAVELLIN' BLUES MAN - Mark Porter (self released)
Rock and roll's parentage has been in dispute from time to time but if it ever comes to DNA evidence, the Blues twill be squarely in the frame. Bearing that in mind, it's refreshing to hear an Aussie blues release that respects the link but charts its own course.
Australian blues bands have more often than not jumped onto the heavy side of the dividing wall. While I've been known to throw down cold beers in the warm pub rock glow of people like Kevin Borich and Chain, the acoustic path charted by the likes of Dutch Tilders and a solo Phil Manning was also a good night out but required closer attention. He might not be as well-known as any of the above but local vocalist-guitarist Mark Porter trades in the same acoustic stuff.
His self-released "Travelling Blues Man" delivers 15 tracks of earthy but warm acoustic blues tunes, many of them standards but also a few lesser-known songs plus four of Porter's own. Howlin' Wolf's "Who's Been Talkin", Bob Zimmerframe's "Don't Think Twice" (yes, it is alright) and "Hoochie Coochie Blues" alongside originals like the moody "Nightshift Blues".
Although Porter doesn't trade on the fact in the star billing, he's helped out by some heavy-hitting friends: Prodigy-turned elder-stateman Tim Gaze (Taman Shud, Jon Lord, Tim Gaze Band, Rose Tattoo and, er, the Barnes person) is on acoustic guitar and the impeccable Doc Spahn blows up a storm on jew's harp.
Bassist Red Porter (Mark's bro) lends his mellifluous talents to the bottom end, and his presence provides a tenuous link to the I-94 Bar's usual fare as he's also a veteran of Klondike's North 40 and the Juke Savages.
Porter himself plays acoustic, dobro and slide and delivers vocals with an impressive presence that's never overstated. The playing's relaxed with quiet authority, while the recording has a live ambience where you can hear every string that's bent and reed that's blown.
The Blues doesn't have to go anywhere new to stake a claim - it's been around far too long for that - but this album is a pleasant detour from having your ears pinned to the wall by amps set to 11. On sale in our shop, if you want to give it a spin. - The Barman
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