Dan Treanor
& Frankie Lee,
African Wind
(Northern Blues, 2004)

All of the songs (except for "Lonesome Road") on African Wind are written by Dan Treanor, and they are powerful, driving and energetic. These are the kind of songs that makes one want to pull off one's shoes and dance around the house.

Most of the songs here are love songs, and "Missing," the first, is a high-spirited introduction to this 15-track album of American blues mixed with African percussion. Frankie Lee's passionate vocals on this begging song mixes so well with the African khalam, a six-stringed banjo-shaped instrument, is such a perfect mix one wonders why no one ever thought of bringing African instruments together with African-American blues. I loved this song.

All the songs are great, but one of my personal favorites is "Mean Woman Blues," which is no whiny she-done-me-wrong song. The narrator has no intention of suffering, and the music tells you so. The ngoni, the banjo of Africa, is haunting and eerie in "Lonesome Road," the perfect touch for a song that hints at spiritual journeys.

"Cane Flute Song" has a zydeco feel. Jaunty and spare on the vocals, the song sets the feet to dancing and the shoulders and hips to rocking. Where is a juke joint when you need one?

The music consists of Dan Treanor on harmonica, acoustic guitar, dobro, keyboards, bass, diddley bow, ngoni, khalam, cane flute and drum; David Henderson on electric guitar, lap steel guitar and acoustic slide guitar; Gary Flori on drums, snare drums, congas, djembe, tables, surdo and shakers; R.D. Jones on electric and upright acoustic bass; Tom Quinn on drums; Tony Arceneaux on flute; and Ruben Flores on percussion. Additional vocals are by Sammy Mayfield (who also plays some guitar), Erick Brown, Peggy Brown and David Booker. They punctuate Frankie Lee's vocals like a musical passionate exhale. I loved this album.

by Carole McDonnell
29 October 2005

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