Michael Packer review…June 18, 2017….

MICHAEL PACKER

I AM THE BLUES

MY STORY VOLUME 3

IRIS MUSIC GROUP

BLUES FOR PEACE–FIELDS OF SORROW–YO STATEN ISLAND–FLASH FLAME–CHICAGO–DO IT ALL OVER–MR PACKER

Native New Yorker and renowned bluesman Michael Packer sadly passed from this Earth on May 6, 2017, following complications from liver cancer.  Luckily, for us fans, his trilogy of  “I Am The Blues” recordings was completed with the finish of “Volume 3” shortly before his passing.  It finalizes his wish to be remembered as simply a bluesman.  The seven cuts herein are each prefaced by a narration regarding each song’s origins, and are as priceless as the music itself.  Michael recounts tales of trials and victories in his “Blues For Peace” world-wide concerts, his love for Chicago, “the blues capital of the world,” and sadly, his worsening health.

Leading off is his request-thru-song for “Blues For Peace,” alluding to the Paris attacks and other recent tragedies.  “Fields Of Sorrow” deals with Michael’s trip to the Hopson Plantation in 2011 and the feelings that overcame him and the band when they thought about what the slaves that worked those fields had to endure.  Ed Jackson and Irving Lattin supply the heartfelt vocals.  “Flash Flame” is a rapid-fire account of a true story about how one’s life can change in an instant after a freak explosion nearly claimed drummer Guy Powell, this one featuring Alexis P. Suter on vocals.  “Do It All Over” is Michael’s somber dedication to the one great love in his life, done over a peaceful, acoustic setting.

One of the most powerful cuts on the set is “Yo Staten Island.”  Set to the tune of “Born Under A Bad Sign,” it is a fiery, topical, in-your-face look today’s society and the seemingly daily ritual of a violent act happening somewhere in the world.  An urgent rap-verse climax is a call for an end to the foolishness of violence and adds to its authenticity.

“Chicago” and “Mr. Packer” were the most fun to listen to.  They were recorded live at Buddy Guy’s Legends in Chicago.  The former is Michael’s shout-out to that city’s blues icons, while the latter is a rockin’ spit in the eye of Death as “Mr. Packer” proudly “has them white boy blues!”   These live cuts feature Mike Wheeler on guitar, “Touch” Hayes on drums, Melvin Smith on bass, and Mad Hatter Purifoy on the keys, and is a stone-cold Chicago way to close things out.

Michael Packer has always been a champion for the rights of the homeless, refugees, and others who just needed a voice to speak for them.  With “My Story, Volume 3,” he seems to have finally found those blues for peace he spent his life searching for.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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