For blues bands actually based in Cottage Country instead of just visiting, we have The Mackenzie Blues Band in Owen Sound and Tobin Spring in Huntsville to name two, but there is now also 12BeLowZero, based in & around Port Elgin. With a classic blues lineup of guitars/harmonica/keys/bass/drums, they have come up with eleven songs that convey a bleak picture of life in Bruce & Grey Counties especially during the winter – no doubt leading to the band name. They’ve set these songs to an attractive variety of tunes, with only the opening “Highway 21” using an obvious starting point, channeling Elmore James’ “Dust My Broom”. That highway runs along Lake Huron from Sarnia through Tiverton to Owen Sound. “Things Go To Hell (And I Go To Church)” is a rather graphic depiction of a failing marriage. On the same theme and equally good is “Wasted, Blown Or Missed”, this time refering to the chances he had to do right. The disc’s highlight is “Bruce County Blues”, summarizing the entire album in just over four minutes. It’s got a rocking groove carrying along some excellent lyrics. A slow blues, “(I’m Not About To Risk My Heart On) Someone Like You”, is almost as good. “Washing Line Blues” and “Whiskey Soured Weekend” are as good as their titles suggest. “Blues Song Blues” is about writing a blues song, with some clever use of wellknown song titles. Christina Mollon is the vocalist with Aaron Johnston on guitars; Tim Eaton, harmonica; Dave Glass, bass and Steve Ballard, drums. Ballard & Glass are the principal songwriters. A producer behind the glass might have requested another take or two of some of the songs and Ms. Mollon is not quite as good a singer as the songs require. A few more gigs should help a lot but for a first album, this is a very good start indeed. The web site is www.12belowzero.bandcamp.com.

John’s Blues Picks August 2017 – Martin Goyette
John’s Blues Picks August 2017 – Trickbag