DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE–SOMEWHERE DOWN THE LINE–ALMOST–RUSTY OLD MODEL-T–BLUESMAN’S LULLABY–MORNING AFTER–DONE ME WRONG–TOGETHER–HAMMERED BY THE BLUES–PLAYING ROUGH–CLOSE MY EYES–BORROWED TIME
Mark Cameron is based in Minnesota, and his musical career started during the folk movement of the Seventies. He turned his attention to the blues full-time in 2009, and hasn’t looked back. He’s got a strikingly-clear baritone vocal delivery, and is world-class on electric and acoustic guitar. As for songwriting, he aims for honesty, with strong lyrics and instrumentation that lends itself well to serious “butt shaking!” You get all that and more on “Playing Rough,” his latest set for COP Records. It is twelve originals that take you from Memphis down to the Delta and back again. Joining in on the fun are his rock-solid backing band of Sheri Cameron on flute, , Bill Keyes on harp, Scott Landberg on bass, Dan Schroeder on drums, and Jason Craft on keys.
That rump-shakin’ credo kicks things off, with the furious, Sun-inspired pace of “the blues is goin’ around,” “Doctor In The House.” He keeps the Sun vibe shining on a plaintive story of a love affair that never quite got off the ground, where “Almost is miles away from being there!” “Close My Eyes” is a haunting, gospel-tinged, a capella blues, with only foot stomps and rattling chains as background. Mark’s Resonator and Bill’s harp drive another story of two quarrelsome lovers who have no intention of breaking up, and use automobiles as metaphors in “Rusty Old Model-T!” This one has a smooth Delta richness throughout.
We had three favorites, too. That “Killer” harp is the driving force behind a man sho’ nuff “Hammered By The Blues,” and, when your woman starts to get that “wandering eye,” you know you are on “Borrowed Time.” Flautist Sheri Cameron adds an eerie, ethereal, smoky essence to this one. And, the set’s centerpiece, “Bluesman’s Lullaby,” is done in tribute to B. B. King. A bluesman “might slow down, but he never retires” from his life’s passion, and Mark’s guitar lines are sparkling herein.
Mark Cameron melds several styles on “Playing Rough,” and does so with ease. He and his seasoned backing players make this one go down as smooth as a shot of good Tennessee corn! Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.