Manitoba Hal (Brolund) plays his blues on the ukelele; playing several different models through FX pedals and using ‘looping’, he can easily overcome any limitations that instrument might have. He has some 17 albums in his discography, many of them solo, one-man-band efforts but this time he went to Calgary to work with the legendary Tim Williams as producer and accompanist. He begins with a trip to the well, the Mississippi Delta. The opener is a solo musical walk through “Alligator”, the town where Robert Johnson’s first wife passed away, leading RJ to a life as a ‘walking musician’. “My Dyin’ Day” introduces the band, with Williams on mandolin, Kit Johnson on bass, Kevin Belzer on drums and Shaye Zadravec & Syndey Zadravec on backup vocals. The song is gospel styled, about a baptism in the land where the blues IS in the water. After these two songs, Hal goes on to some other subjects: “Papa Gâteau (Made Of Money)” makes fun of status and cash in two languages; “Paul Walked On” turns up the electricity for a band song about the Apostle Paul on the road to Damascus; “Hope Of A Brighter Day” is an uplifting toe tapper, with a gorgeous melody and a fine slide guitar part from Williams. A sense of his humble character comes through in these songs, perhaps best summed up by the album’s closer, “Blessed By Love”: ‘I am not special, I am ordinary but I am blessed by love. It is what makes me special.’ Manitoba Hal was born and raised in Winnipeg, hence the nickname but now lives in Shelburne NS. He’ll be in our area this month, at the Moonshine Café in Oakville on August 8th and in Hamilton at Mississippi Queen Foods on the 10th. Find out more at