Tony Cini's Blues Explosion


Review of Tony Cini’s Blues Explosion by Michael Smith, Associate & Contributing Editor, The Drum Media

With the fourth in this exciting ongoing series of compilations showcasing the best of Australia’s emerging as well a few established artists and acts working within the broad parameters of blues music, from hard-edged rock to traditional acoustic Delta workouts, Tony Cini’s Blues Explosion establishes itself as the must-have release of the year for any self-respecting lover of not only blues but also original Australian music in general.

It kicks off in fine style with the suitably explosive Ain’t Bringing Me Down from WA’s Vdelli, before pulling back with the heartfelt blues rock ballad, Cold Shoulder, from Melbourne’s Jesse Valach and Blues Mountain, with one subtly mellifluous solo to die for. Still only 18, Minnie Marks, from the NSW northern coast hamlet of Crescent Head, is punching well above her weight not only as a guitar stylist but also with a voice that sounds like she’s experienced more heartache than her years could ever suggest on her feisty Little People.
Things get more laidback with Tasmanian Pete Cornelius’ contribution, Town Of Machine, a touch of the cruisy end of the late great Stevie Ray in the mix. And feisty is the perfect descriptor for the distaff half of popular festival duo, Hat Fitz & Cara, the latter’s Irish energy having revitalised an already well-respected Australian Dust Bowl bluesman, as evidenced by their contribution, Power, from their Wiley Ways album. Who would have thought Irish tin whistle would meld so easily into a soul/blues stomp?
They’re not all about the youngsters either, these Blues Explosion compilations. Would you please make most welcome Queensland’s best kept secret and Chain Award winner, Ms Cath Butler, with enough sass and savvy to give Renee Geyer a run for her money, here joined by her band Joynt Venture on her down and dirty slowburn blues, Dangerous Desires. Guitarist Lloyd Speigel should be no stranger to anyone who’s been following Australian music the past decade or so, here sinking his teeth into his Murder For Breakfast. Similarly, the divine Fiona Boyes has become an essential part of any self-respecting blues/roots festival and the US Blues Music Awards nominee delivers her tribute to one of her Delta blues heroes, Baptized In Muddy’s Sweat, with the verve we’ve all come to expect.
Newer kids on the block, Brisbane’s Mojo Webb Band, dig even deeper into the Chicago blues with Love Done Right – don’t get too close ladies! Though the three Melbourne ladies who make up Jungal give the boys a run for their money on their raucous call to arms, Say It. Guitarist Mark Easton once fronted a glam rock band back in the late ‘80s but rediscovered his mojo and recast himself as one bad bluesman, and gets that hard groove working overtime on his How Do You Sleep At Night. Eli Wolfe has also explored a variety of musical avenues, most memorably with The Honey Palace, but has struck gold stepping out on his own, as evidenced by his slinky acoustic roots workout, Cards Are On The Table. As for the happily hippie couple Nick & Liesl, they may not be blues in any traditional sense, but there’s so much sunshine in their contribution, Most Of My Life, that you can’t help but smile and know that whoever thought the blues could only exist in the pain of a dirt poor black American for the Mississippi Delta circa 1930 will be reminded that the blues is a living tradition that continues to absorb influences from the people it touches and then inspires to make it in their own image. Long may it do so.

Michael Smith, Associate & Contributing Editor, The Drum Media


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