Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mississippi Heat – Hattiesburg Blues (Delmark, 2008)

Despite their name, this is a Chicago blues band with an interesting touch of Latin music and soul surging through their music. Led by harmonicist Pierre Lacocque and vocalist Inetta Visor, the group plays mostly original music with a couple of covers thrown in. Things start off promisingly, with a very saucy and soulful blues, “Tiger Man,” featuring the strong pipes of Ms. Visor. “Chicago is My Home” is a gutsy straight up blues with guitarist and vocalist Lurrie Bell sitting in and celebrating his hometown with a fine performance. The blues is at it's core a music that is by and of the working class, and several of the songs on this disc look at what it is like to make it in the city today as a blue collar citizen. "How Much Worse Can It Be" and "Hell and Back" have well written lyrics and good musical performances that make you think, as well as dance. But the highlight of the disc for me was the fascinating instrumental "Calypso in Blue" which puts Lacocque's harmonica front and center with a strong, jazzy performance. This is a solid and well played if occasionally generic example of modern blues. The band is hardworking, and have a wide range of music that they explore.

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