Moreland & Arbuckle is one impressive, highly versatile blues band hailing from Kansas, consisting of Aaron Moreland on guitars, Dustin Arbuckle on vocals and harmonica, plus Brad Horner on drums. "1861" seems an odd title, but that’s the year Kansas was admitted to the union, hence the CD is dedicated to that mid-American state. The people of Kansas should feel proud because these native sons deliver the goods with taste, style, and inventiveness.
"Gonna Send You Back To Georgia" kick things off in a raucous salute to Hound Dog Taylor’s best-known version. HDT never hold back anything and neither do M & A, who keeps thing locked into a hot, throbbing groove. "Fishing Hole" gives notice that the band is adept at delving into down-home blues steeped in tradition, but with a sprinkling of modernity. "Tell Me Why" is another shining moment for Dustin, a dreamy acoustic gem with sparse accompaniment, primarily anchored by a swirling harmonica riff. As with every track, there’s a sense of maturity and authority that flies in the face of the band’s relative youth. These guys have put many years of practice and thought into mastering the multi-faceted what they’ve put down.
"See My Jumper’s Hanging Down The Line" has a definite Howlin Wolf-like vibe rippling throughout, although it’s actually an R.L. Burnside song. That menacing growl, those grumbling protestations and, of course, that insistent groove produce a mighty powerful elixir. It’s followed by "The Legend," a southern-fried blues shuffle with a strong story line and there’s top-notch slide guitar for good measure. "Teasin’ Doney" is another acoustic pearl that touches the soul and then the boys get down to some good old-fashioned "home-cooking" on "Please Please Mammy." It could have come out of a Mississippi juke joint circa 1946, with Jimmy Reed and Eddie Taylor holding court.
These guys dig song with long titles, but who’s complaining when "Pittsburgh In The Morning, Philadelphia At Night" delivers the goods. And for icing on the cake, B-3 junkies will get a royal earful thanks to special guest Chris Wiser. He’s there on the Hammond on two tracks, "Diamond Ring" and especially "Wiser’s Jam," an extended improvisational finale that’ll leave you craving for more.
Methinks "1861" is a very lucky number, both for the state of Kansas and Moreland & Arbuckle.