Sunday, December 19, 2010

“Carriage House Sessions” - Jeff Ray and Hurricane Harold (Self-Released)

By Eric Steiner
It's impolitic for me to review another blues society's entrant in the Best Self-Produced CD competition during the 2011 International Blues Challenge, but I promised a friend at the Greater Twin Cities Blues Society in Minneapolis-St. Paul that I'd listen to his latest CD. I initially discovered "Hurricane" Harold Tremblay through the Blindman Blues Forum, and met him at a St. Paul harp show featuring Billy Branch, Mark Hummel and the Twin Cities ' RJ Mischo. Down the street, local harp player Steve "Boom Boom" Vonderarr tore it up, and Harold was an expert tour guide.

The first time I heard Carriage House Sessions, I knew that our own CD in the competition, Walk the Talk from Son Jack, Jr. and Michael Wilde, had a strong challenger. Carriage House Sessions features inspired interpretations of "Key to the Highway," "Buckets of Rain" and "Can't Lose What You Never Had." The original material is fresh, too. Jeff and Harold are also their society's entrant in the solo/duo competition (a challenger to Nick Vigarino and Porch Stomp).

We've reviewed Harold's other band in the WBS Bluesletter , Cool Disposition, and Carriage House Sessions offers up a nice alternative to the electric Jump in the Mudd. It's an achievement for a solo/duo blues act to receive its societies' nod to compete in both the CD Competition and the Solo/Duo competition, and I wish Jeff and Hurricane the best (only after Son Jack Jr. and Michael Wilde, and Nick Vigarino and Porch Stomp, make it to the finals in Memphis!).

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