Guitarist singer/songwriter Mark Crissinger is an Ontario native who has lived in Nanaimo since 2007. He was in bands here but has concentrated on his solo career since his move. This is his tenth album and it features a backing band consisting of some of Nanaimo’s top players: Bill Hicks on drums, Jay Stevens on bass, Darcy Phillips on keyboards, Marty Howe on harp and Pierre Komen on tenor sax. He wanted a lighter, dance-oriented “blues therapy” sound and I think he has succeeded admirably. Komen’s sax work leads off on the title song, a rocking plea to “Believe in Love” with a stunning lead guitar solo from Crissinger. Phillips’ rock ‘n roll piano highlights “I Hear You Talking (But You Ain’t Saying Much to Me)”. Only slightly slower is “I’m Gonna Love You”, Phillips is on organ this time and there’s another succinct and effective guitar solo. Crissinger switches to acoustic with Howe on harmonica for “Roll with the Punches” a little Piedmont styled blues that’s as easy going as the title suggests. With the same acoustic lineup and livelier tempo, he tells of a visit to his doctor who prescribes exercise and Crissinger decides on dancing – “Bluesercise Boogie” should be just what the doctor ordered. “La Hoochie Coo” is sung in French but you won’t need your phrase book, just your dancing shoes. There’s time for a slow dance too, to “Heartache and Trouble”. With a lovely acoustic guitar part, piano, harmonica and Hicks on brushes, Crissinger pleads for her return and he whistles along with the harmonica solo. A grinding electric blues gets some of his strongest singing as he sings for those in the working classes who realize they can’t realize their dreams. He calls it “(That’s a) Hard No”. He concludes with a well-written, rocking tribute to the Hornby Island Blues Camp. The chemistry of this new band is palpable. Believe in Love will be released on September 13th and as he tours here frequently, stay informed at www.markcrissinger.com.

Top Blues - September 2019
Blues Revival #3 Featuring Sandra Bouza