This band is based in Ottawa when they are not touring and they are seldom there. They’ve won a New Artist MBA and bassist Leigh-Anne Stanton won that MBA a couple of years ago. Murray Kinsley is the lead vocalist/guitarist/songwriter, Rod Williams plays harp and Bruce Saunders on drums & percussion. The hard-rocking blues quartet added Jesse O’Brien on keys plus Darcy Heppner & Sonny Del Rio on saxes for this outing as well. With renowned producer Nick Blagona on board, this is a major leap forward from three already good albums. Things get under way with the defiant, pounding rocker “This Old Dawg (knows the blues)” (with Tom Bona guesting on drums). They were working in Florida when the Parkland school shooting occurred, the slide-driven “Trouble Coming” was the result and it’s worth the price of the album alone with its perceptive lyric and powerful performance. ”So Long, Too Soon” is a well-written slow blues dedicated to those who’ve passed, principally Ron Casat, the late keyboard ace. The eye-catching title song was found on a road sign they saw while touring in Alabama & they found the story behind it – all history should sound this good. There are more rockers, a jazzy “Dance the Blues” with Williams on chromatic and some lovely a capella singing as part of “Take Me Down (women & whiskey gonna make me pay)”. The program concludes with an impassioned “Freedom”, written by Colin James and Tom Wilson, originally on Colin’s Bad Habits. Kinsley turns in a remarkable vocal performance as a man wrongly convicted. Their web site is www.wickedgrin.ca and it shows they are on a US tour with a stop at the Sportsmens Tavern in Buffalo on Nov 10. Catching an Ottawa band in Buffalo might seem unusual but they are worth it – they’re an excellent live band too.

November 2018 - Eric Bibb
November 2018 - Jack Semple