Things change rapidly on the blues scene. Since the days of Charlie Patton, every generation of blues artists has added their special contribution to the art form. This new CD by Paul Reddick and the Sidemen is no exception.
The group is among Canada's premier blues bands and justly so. The innovative Reddick calls his music "Hard blues for modern times." You might expect a hard-rocking band to be fully electric but it isn't the case. The Sidemen stock the stage with a number of acoustic instruments as well. Paul Reddick was nominated as Canada's top harp player in the Maple Blues Awards for 1999 and proves his worth on this album. Reddick wrote fifteen of the sixteen tunes on "Rattlebag." Guitarist, Colin Linden who recorded the session and is heard on various stringed instruments, penned "Blind River Bound".
The listener will notice that all the "clichéd" riffs are absent and have been replaced by exciting new licks on guitar and harp. I'm a ham-radio operator and noticed a riff on "Pinegum" that sounds like the letters "HH" sent on a Morse code key. The rhythm similarity is uncanny. Although Reddick's CD is loaded with new ideas, he acknowledges the Mississippi Delta roots on "Blind River Bound" and "Dreamin', Dreamin'." Some great sounds on Kyle Ferguson's National Steel can be heard on the jukejoint boogie "Smokehouse."
Paul Reddick is a truly fine writer and all the songs are drawn from his own experiences and travels. One piece, "06/19" finds Reddick on solo harmonica testing a delay box in the studio. Colin Linden wisely kept the tape rolling and a nice bit of music was preserved. The unusual title evolved from the date Robert Johnson recorded "Hellhound On My Trail" in 1937.
The leader is a competent blues singer and his vocals are an important part of the band's success. The guys have been together for ten years and it shows in their performances, either live or on record. They have toured with Buddy Guy and Colin James and have opened for Koko Taylor, B.B. King, John Mayall and James Cotton. These musicians are not blues purists but their sound will move mountains.