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True Bluefrom Ellis Kell
Argus/Dispatch blues columnist


MARCH 2001

Blues direct from the Emerald Isle...

Don Baker has been described as 'one of Ireland's most gifted musicians', among whose most prominent fans are U2's Bono and American harmonica wizard Charlie McCoy. McCoy composed "Funky Duck" especially for Baker, which is the only tune on the new CD not penned by the artist. Baker returned the favor by composing "Jordana," a tune which McCoy later went on to record. Oasis' Mark Feltham has declared Baker "the best acoustic harmonica player alive." Don Baker will be kicking off select U.S. tour dates mid-March in Portland, Oregon in support of his 7th recording, "Miss You." His style is smooth, funky, passionately soulful, and in some respects reminiscent of Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits. Each one of the songs live and breath with its own personality, straight from the heart and soul of Don Baker. He is backed by regular bandmates Gerry Hendrick on guitar, Eric Coates on bass, Hugh O'Neill on drums, and Vincent O'Connor on keyboards. Catherine Coates is also featured on background vocals, along with a string quartet comprised of Gloria Mulhall, Sebastian Petiet, Vivien Long and John Lynch.

Its possible that this celebrated Irish performer might well pay a visit to our area, but nothing has been confirmed at this writing. An extremely versatile artist, Baker is singer, songwriter, guitarist, harmonica master, and veteran actor of both the big screen and television. His most prominent film role to date came in the 1993 Jim Sheridan movie "In the Name of the Father," (which starred Daniel Day-Lewis) where Don played IRA leader Joe McAndrew in the UK prison sequences. A brand new film due for release this year, "On the Nose," pairs Don Baker up with Blues Brother Dan Aykroyd and Robbie Coltrane. In this new comic film, Don portrays a slick Dublin bookie. Don's real-life trials and tribulations have been chronicled in a biography by Jackie Hayden entitled "The Winner in Me," which is now on the Irish Bestsellers list

As if this wasn't enough load to carry, Don Baker is also been a prominent judge of the World Harmonica Championships, and his expertise has been featured in numerous international tutorials, books, CD's and educational videos on the instrument. Finally, there are also plans for yet another new CD release later this year. For more on this incredibly talented and unique artist, visit the official Don Baker web site at: www.donbaker.ie. If you happen to visit Don' web site, please make sure you let him know we would love to see them visit the Mississippi Valley for a gig or two!

More new Blues you can use...

"Ramblin' Mind," Big Bill Morganfield (Blind Pig Records BPCD 5068) Being the son of a true blues icon like the legendary Muddy Waters obviously leaves some big shoes to fill. With his second CD release, Big Bill Morganfield leaves no doubt that he has arrived - in his own right. This hot new CD features special guest performances by Taj Mahal, along with backing from a stellar Blues unit including Bob Margolin, Billy Branch, Pinetop Perkins, Willie Smith and other notables. This 'rising son' has done hisself (and his father's legacy) real proud!

"Jump for Joy," Mitch Woods and His Rocket 88's (Blind Pig Records BPCD 5067) This is rock-a-boogie extraordinaire, from a true master of the genre. This collection jumps and swings as it pays homage to the music of the 1940's, all the while retaining the fresh and vital punch that Mitch Woods and the 88's have carried as their signature banner for over 20 years. All the tunes, while drawing on the tradition of the greats of the era, are pure Mitch Woods. Essential jump and boogie for the Blues aficionado, and required listening for Blues 101.

I can't be hangin' 'round this corner no more... so I'm movin' further on up the road. Peace and blessings to all, and, until we meet again at this crossroads...

Blues to 'ya!
trueblue@qconline.com

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