Vernon BC-based Les Copeland is a veteran country bluesman, tracing his path from Fred McDowell and was a regular playing partner for David Honeyboy Edwards on his trips to the West Coast. Honeyboy guested on Copeland’s earlier discs for Earwig, in person on the first and in spirit on the second. This new one is occasionally a band album with Cameron Ward on bass and Scott Grant on drums, they accompany Copeland sympathetically most of the time but they do get to rock out on a couple: a funky version of Albert King’s “Change of Pace” as the opener and a fine version of Freddie King’s “Woman Across The River”. Apart from these two, we get a generous program of covers and originals with very authentic versions of Big Bill Broonzy’s “When I Been Drinkin’” and Sleepy John Estes’ “Drop Down Mama” both of which reveal that they are no longer politically correct. Copeland’s own songs dominate and while they are mostly acoustic, they are not written in this older style. They are blues though, the title song being particularly good as a warning to those who don’t treat their woman right. “Gone” is an effective tale of a man striking out on his own after his relationship sours. Another highlight is “Soggy Mountain Breakdown” featuring Copeland on slide and label prez Michael Frank on harmonica with the rhythm section. This song is by Shannon Long who it turns out is a Waterloo-based musician with some fourteen albums to his credit. I suspect Copeland deserves credit for the solid blues arrangement. This is Country blues, not from the American south, but from the Okanagan Valley. You can get Copeland’s albums and many other topflight blues discs through www.earwigmusic.com.

December 2018 - Jim Dan Dee