The blues is alive and rockin’ in Canada’s capital city. Ottawa’s young harmonica sensation Steve Marriner comes out swinging on Going Up, his debut for Dog My Cat Records. With nods to harp legends Little Walter, Junior Wells and Kim Wilson, Marriner and his tight band fan the flames of tradition with a scorching sound for the 21st century.
Marriner proves himself an adept singer/songwriter who writes highly melodic tunes that are energetic and full of catchy hooks, reminiscent of Delbert McClinton. His lyrics stay true to the braggadocio tradition forged by past blues legends. He sings about being exasperated with the opposite sex ("Play Thing" and "Chasing You Around") and straight-up contempt ("Remember Me" and "Big Game").
The highlight of Going Up is Marriner’s blistering harmonica playing. The young harp shouter has a natural sense of blues phrasing with a down-home, gritty tone. His solos on "I’m a Lover Not a Fighter" and "Funny Business" are exceptional.
Marriner has recruited a top notch crew of sidemen who keep things tight and know how to stretch out on a diverse array of blues stylings. Guitarist Garrett Mason tears it up on The Fabulous Thunderbirds inspired "Play Thing," the Louisiana tinged "Going Up (To Get Down)" and "Zulu Ripper," the hard driving disc closer. Canadian blues star Sue Foley displays soulful guitar technique on "The Same Thing Could Happen to You" and "El Encuentro." Bassists Mike Farrington Jr. and Sean Burke, drummer Tom Bona and keyboard man Geoff Daye provide a solid foundation with just the right amount of musical coloring suitable to Marriner’s vision.
With solid performances and slick production, Going Up is a strong premiere by a driven young blues maverick with crossover potential and all the makings of a star.