Monday, March 1, 2010
Monster Mike WELCH - Crying Hey! 2005
Cryin’ Hey! is the CD I’ve wanted to make since I was thirteen years old. I’ve made a lot of different kinds of CDs in my short career, but I’ve never had a chance to make a record like this. When Philippe Langlois at DixieFrog approached me with the idea of a straight blues record in 2004, I felt like I had been offered a chance to come home, and I immediately started writing material and assembling my dream blues band.
The songs were much easier to write than I had initially feared. Over the years, my writing had become more obscure, complex, and rock-oriented, partly because my tastes had changed and partly because I was very insecure about my ability as a young white boy to tell the kind of direct, heartfelt stories that the great blues singers and writers told so effortlessly. The opportunity to make a blues record forced me to look at my life differently, and I realized that as a 26 year-old man trying to make the best life possible with a wife, new baby, and money problems, I had stories to tell. Within a couple of weeks, I had most of the CD written, and I’d already tested the new songs on gigs. The directness of the songs also meant that they were much easier for me to sing than anything I’d written before, and if I were to single out the thing I’m most proud of on Cryin’ Hey!, it would be the growth in my vocals.
The band members were also easy to choose. Anthony Geraci, Mudcat Ward, and Warren Grant are musicians and friends that I’ve worked with in different situations for ten years or more, and were obvious choices. Nick Moss is among the very best blues guitarists I’ve ever heard, and someone I’d always wanted a chance to work with. Nick lives in Chicago, but he just happened to have a couple of days off during his Northeast tour on the exact two days we were scheduled to record in the Boston area, so he was added to the list. Nick is a real-deal Chicago bluesman whose playing reminds me of Earl Hooker and Jimmy Rogers, Warren’s specialty is the Houston shuffle in the vein of Sonny Freeman on the great B.B. King and Duke Records sides, and Mudcat, Ant, and I are part of the New England tradition, which has elements of both the Chicago and Texas approaches with its own flavor. All of us bear our regional stamps, but none of us are limited to any one approach, so I was blessed with a band behind me that could tackle any kind of blues I threw at it.
With songs and musicians I was comfortable with, the recording was the best session I’ve ever been involved with. We recorded the music completely live in the studio in about six hours, with no overdubs necessary. I was inspired to play more guitar than I have on any record since 1996’s These Blues Are Mine, which feels good. Listening back to it, I hear everything I’ve learned from my blues guitar heroes, especially early Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Hubert Sumlin, Otis Rush, Magic Sam, Freddy King, Gatemouth Brown, Robert Lockwood, and Muddy Waters. Cryin’ Hey! gave me a chance to pay tribute to them and all of the other great blues singers and musicians, and to try to make the listener feel the way those people made me feel with their music.
It's sad many good CDs don't get distributed worldwide. Unfortunately, it's essentially a pop culture we're living in these days, especially in the US. For particular genre music, such as blues, jazz, folk, classical, etc., if you want it bad enough you sometimes have to go out of your way to get it. Nonetheless, that extra effort can be rewarding, because good stuff is out there just waiting to be found. Fortunately, for passionate listeners, there are record companies still distributing the good stuff that isn't backed and pushed by millions of dollars, such as Europe's DixieFrog in this case. Ironically enough, the music that's hard to find is often the most authentic and most passionate music out there. It's raw and rudimentary, yet ingenious and resourceful. It's supported by its history and its roots more than by big money, primarily because musicians, not corporations, create it. The music is real.
Cryin' Hey!, the newest release from Boston favorite, Monster Mike Welch, is one of those gems. If you crave gritty and unrefined garage style blues, this will put a smile on your face for days. Monster Mike does some of the most electrifying and soulful guitar work of his career. It's the record he has wanted to make for years. He pulls out all the stops, exposing all of his blues influences. His style is often indicative of Muddy Waters, Hubert Sumlin, Freddie King, and Magic Sam; you can pick out traces of Ronnie Earl and Duke Robillard, a little Stevie Ray as well. Mike has traces of all the blues greats imbedded in him anyway, as he's a true blues player, and has been since he first started playing at age eight.
Fans of the Monster Mike Welch Band in the past, and blues fans in general, will find Cryin' Hey! a refreshing treat, as the band cuts loose in a traditional Chicago blues style. Lovers of those wailing, crying guitar solos within cool slow blues numbers can rejoice. There are at least four of them on this CD, all done with taste and style. His voice isn't bad either. It's grittiness matches the rawness of the sessions, most of which were done in one take. The songs have that spontaneous air about them, that Magic Sam ambiance.
The tone of Mike's blue Stratocaster through a Victoria Deluxe is deliciously raw and downright bluesy. Also making up this fine vintage sounding Monster Mike Welch Band are legendary bassist and guitarist Nick Moss (playing guitar); Anthony Geraci on piano, who also played with Sugar Ray & the Bluetones, and Ronnie Earl, among others; Michael 'Mudcat' Ward on bass, who also played with Hubert Sumlin, Sugar Ray & the Bluetones, Ronnie Earl, and others; and the fabulous Warren Grant on drums.
The CD is dedicated to Mike's wife Jeannette and son Joaquin, the two things more precious to him than his blues.
Featuring an all-star cast including Nick Moss (Nick Moss and the Flip Tops, The Legendary Blues Band, Jimmy Rogers) on second guitar, Anthony Geraci (Ronnie Earl, Sugar Ray and the Bluetones) on piano, Michael "Mudcat" Ward (Hubert Sumlin, Sugar Ray and the Bluetones, Big Walter Horton) on upright and electric bass, and Warren Grant (The Monster Mike Welch Band, The Lydia Warren Band) on drums, Cryin' Hey! represents the finest singing, playing and songwriting of Monster Mike Welch's career
01. All The Love In The World
02. Cryin' Hey!
03. A Thrill To Be Alive
04. Joaquin Riley
05. My Father's Son
06. They Call Me Monster Mike
08. One Of Those Days
09. This High, High Cost Of Leaving
10. Searching For An Angel
11. Give Me Time