VOICES Notes and news on Contemporary Jazz releases
23 FEB 10 JONATHAN WIDRAN
Now that the New Orleans Saints' Super Bowl win has taken away a little more of the lingering trauma of Hurricane Katrina, it might be a good time to remember that there are other bad floods in the U.S. that true bluesmen like guitarist Aaron Moreland and singer/harpist Dustin Arbuckle can lament brilliantly on disc. On Moreland & Arbuckle's Telarc debut Flood, they rock through the personal wreckage on "18 Counties," which chronicles a major deluge near their hometown of Wichita a few summers ago.
Come to think of it, their live take of the traditional "Legend of John Henry" hits the soul a lot like a hurricane, too. The two, who met at an open mic jam at a club there in 2001, adhere to tradition while blazing cool new trails as they merge old school Chicago and Delta blues and raw garage rock vibes. They bring to the organic 13 track set a uniquely gritty swirl of influences. Arbuckle's thing is Mississippi blues, traditional country music and bluegrass, while Moreland dips into the spicy, raucous wells of everyone from Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath to Charlie Patton and Muddy Waters.
Flood is their first major release but the duo has a bunch of busy years of recording, touring and winning awards under their belt. Their third self-produced recording, 1861, won 2008 Indie Acoustic Project CD of the Year. That same year, they performed two weeks for our troops in Iraq, an experience they describe as "crazy awesome," yet "super grueling." Back on the home front, Moreland & Arbuckle recently completed tour dates with Jonny Lang, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Johnny Winter.