Mark Crissinger hails from Nanaimo now but he was a longtime Toronto resident, playing in the band Caution Jam, and before that in the rock band Sweet Jones. These days he performs solo and with a band on occasion, and you should be able to catch him in both formats on his current tour, which lands him at Monarch’s Pub on November 12 for the official CD Release Party. On this disc he’s backed by Bill Hicks on drums, Jeff Heisholt on keys, Martyn Jones on bass and Marty Howe on harmonica. With these bands and solo he has an extensive recording history and that experience shows on this disc. He clearly hasn’t restricted himself to blues but with this disc he’s decided to do exactly that.

“Celebration Blues” invites everyone to have a good time and is a most effective opener. “Shake A Leg” is an excellent rocker, with Heisholt in full Jerry Lee Lewis mold. Crissinger is a very good guitarist and his solo here is a killer. “In Love With A Liar” slows things down a little bit for an attractive slice of R&B. “5000 Miles (from home)” is a gorgeous road song with prominent organ and harmonica. “Blues Expression” is Crissinger’s ‘Why I Sing The Blues’ and he has some very good answers for that question. “Slice of Life” is another blues highlight. Our loss is clearly Nanaimo’s gain.

The web site is www.crissinger.ca where his songs are streaming and it’ll also show he’s in the West End at the Blue Goose on Nov. 15.

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