BOWL OF SUGAR
When it comes to blues music in Saskatchewan no one does it better than B.C. Read, a sort of walking encyclopedia of the genre who knows how to play the blues in a way that pays homage to the genre's history. This guy is sweet, so his latest recording effort is certainly aptly named.
Read might be best known for the way he covers the history of blues in live performances, something Yorkton blues fans will recall as he was a regular when the Painted Hand Casino was doing bi-weekly blues Tuesdays (oh to have those back).
This is Read's third album, following the 1998 release My Tunes and his 2002 Live album reviewed here a number of years back. On this one Read has his hand in writing all 15 cuts, yes 15 cuts so it's a hearty helping of blues.
When I initially listened to this effort, I immediately assumed at least some were cover tunes, since they have a sound so reminiscent of blues from and earlier era. It surprised me to see Read had penned them all, although it shouldn't have, knowing this guy has such a solid understanding of the history of blues. For him he was simply writing what he knows best.
When you hear Can't Be Found, a song Read has performed for a while now in his live show, you will swear it was cleaned from the repertoire of some bluesman from a half century ago.
You will love the sad song I've Got News For You. You just know somewhere along the way Read faced a broken heart.
Personally I liked the harp work on A Blues Man Has Got To Wear A Hat, a song Manitoba Hal and Big Dave McLean are going to like since both Manitoba bluesmen wear familiar hats. Interestingly, Read rarely does. Of course Big Dave has a tie to Bowl of Sugar playing harmonica on To Wear A Hat, as well as on Why Do Girls Do That.
I like the cut Prove That You Love Me, which has Read joined by Sharon Mathison for some nice vocal harmonization.
Read has always been the king of blues in terms of Saskatchewan, and among the royal elite in Canada, in my mind. With Bowl Of Sugar he certainly justifies my view of his ability. Keep it up B.C., you definitely add sweetness to my day anytime I give your CDs a spin.
Check him out at www.bcread.com
-- CALVIN DANIELS
-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Aug. 1, 2007 - Yorkton, SK. Canada