Billy Joe Green, Osawi Kinew (Brown Eagle) of the Mahkwa Dotem (Bear Clan) is from the Anishnaabe Aki-ing Territory. His escape from residential school was through his guitar. The Winnipeg nightclub scene was hot and Billy Joe soaked it all up, playing every kind of music imaginable. After close to 50 years, seven CDs and many awards we get Born To Lose. Some of those CDs included impressive Indigenous songs, country music, western swing and more but always blues & rock ‘n’ roll. And blues is what we mostly get here. He performs most often in a power trio setting, especially on the opening “Bebe’s Blues”, a strong blues with heavily amplified guitar, he’s asking if it’s true that his baby is leaving. We all know the answer. The second song in this program of original songs is a fine slow blues “All My Life”, with a guest vocal from Sam Cockrell. Not having to worry about singing, Billy Joe plays some stunning lead guitar throughout. The wonderfully titled “Ms. Demeaner Blues” in another slow blues concerning a woman he might have been better off without. “Swangin’ Bangin’ (Shut The Front Door)” leaves the vocals out altogether, a quite marvellous display of guitar work. “Great Big World” veers towards rock pop territory but has a very attractive tune. Along the same lines is “Ain’t Always Wrong”, again with a fine melody and a great lyric. There’s also some fine harp work from Lil’ Eli (Herzcovich). Billy Joe discovered Lil’ Eli mournfully playing his harp in a laundromat in his wheelchair. He was so impressed he invited him to play on this song. The invitation was more effective than any medicine. Chang Meadmore plays drums on these songs with Pat Tointigh on bass and James Walzak or Marc Arnold on keys. A couple of the other songs sound like they come from other sessions or from earlier CDs but the bulk of the songs here show what a fine bluesman he is. He doesn’t seem to stray too far from Winnipeg these days, so if you happen to be there, check out his Facebook page.

John's Blues Picks January 2018 - Vincent Beaulne
John's Blues Picks January 2018 - Crystal Shawanda