Dave MacKenzie,
(Hey Baby, 2003)

If you like country blues, I think you owe it to yourself to give Solo by Dave MacKenzie a listen. If you are familiar with Dave's previous releases -- Rats in My Bedroom, All New Slender Man Blues and Old, New, Borrowed & Blue -- then you know he adds straight-laced humor to his blues. What sets this new CD apart is that the music is a little simpler -- instead of being backed by a band, Dave accompanies himself with a metal-bodied dobro and 6- or 12-string guitars.

Thirteen of 15 tracks are Dave's own creations. The two exceptions are "Little Laura" by John Estes and "Too Young to Know" by McKinley Morganfield. The best tunes are some of the originals. One track, which might at first seem offensive, is "Big Ol' Girls." Dave, himself, appears to be an extremely skinny, tall guy; in this song, he sings about his preference for larger ladies. If you aren't careful, you too will soon be singin' about why you like "Big Ol' Girls."

My favorite track is probably "Rats in My Bedroom." This tune was previously recorded on the CD by the same name, but the new take is the stripped-down version. Fewer instruments give the song a greater edge by placing more focus on the vocals. With lyrics such as "I had a cockroach walk across my kitchen table./It had a ham hock in it's mouth" and "They started snorting up that Black Flag I sprayed,/that's when I got afraid./They said 'Son, if you're tryin' to kill us, you need some stronger stuff in this place./The only way we're dyin' right now is from laughin' in your face.'," you will wonder how Dave performs this piece with a straight face.

"If Jesus Comes Back" is a tongue-in-cheek look at the second coming of the Christian Messiah. Dave examines how Jesus might come back as a Mexican, a black-man, a queen or even a homeless man. Are you ready if the new Jesus doesn't fit the white-male stereotype? If the guitar work doesn't grab you, the lyrics should at least make you pause and think a moment.

Dave was born in St. Louis and has spent time in Memphis and Chicago. He currently resides in Nashville. He has rubbed shoulders with the likes of Bukka White and John Lee Hooker. That might explain, in part, how Dave engaged his current talent. It also didn't hurt that he spent time as the bandleader for Hank Ballard and the Midnighters. His songs have been recorded by James Armstrong, Microwave Dave, Maria Muldaur and Johnny Jones, according to the promo material.

Solo is a nice little blues CD. As Dave states himself, "Solo features modern blues done old-style." The lyrics are generally amusing and the guitar work well done. His website also showcases the work done by his wife, Adie Grey. If you like old style country blues, check them out. I don't think you will be disappointed.

- Rambles
written by Wil Owen
published 28 June 2003

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