Sixteen-year-old harp student Steve Marriner asked to sit in with Harry Manx at an Ottawa gig. Manx was so impressed that Marriner would tour with him for five years. He would subsequently go on to make a huge impact on our music scene, with MonkeyJunk and many others, as a producer and multi-instrumentalist, winning many awards along the way. And he stayed in close touch with Manx. They got together last summer for this project. Some blues gets us under way, “Nothing” is a song about abject resignation by Manx on which they trade verses – his wife has left him, he’s lost his home, all he has left is the ‘sweetest nothing’. Manx plays banjo and Marriner electric guitar & harp, soloing most effectively on both. Manx’s drummer, Moe Duella, drives this first single from the album along nicely. The other blues track is a stunning version of Charlie Patton’s “Rattlesnake Blues” with Manx on vocals & slide and Marriner on drums, guitars & harp. Longtime Manx accompanist Clayton Doley was there to add some attractive organ fills. The title song is a Marriner original, one he introduced to us at his Blues Summit Showcase to great effect. Here he plays guitars, bass, harp and drums along with Manx’s Mohan Veena. Our narrator has had enough of this world and is making a change. “My Lord” is just Marriner on his 12-string singing a moving gospel original with the “Marrinaires” providing very Sojourners-like harmonies. Marriner also tackles Pops Staples on “Wish I Had Answered”, using that distinctive tremolo guitar and Manx adding background vocals plus Doley on organ. He follows that with a lovely version of Rev. Gary Davis’ “Death Have No Mercy in This Land” with Manx on ‘Mysticssippi’ slide. Manx takes the vocal solo on his toe-tapping “Everybody Knows (love’s sweet name)”, with Marriner on slide, baritone guitar, bass & BG vocals. “My Only One” finds Manx singing a quite excellent love song, accompanying himself on banjo, with Marriner on harmonica and Doley on organ. They wrote another lovely ballad together that ends the album: “Rise and Fall in Love” has Manx on vocals, Marriner on electric guitar and Jim Bowskill on viola & violin. They clearly enjoy playing together but don’t seem to have many opportunities: they memorably played at the Maple Blues Awards and they recently played a concert in Regina but Manx is touring Quebec solo this month and MonkeyJunk is on a Maritimes tour. Find out more at www.stonyplainrecords.com.

April 2019 - Harpdog Brown
Top Blues - April 2019