" Blue Skies Calling "
Marcel Marsupial Records
Encore performance by two blues heavyweights, (09/09/09)
I'm figuring that Boy Wells is one and the same as Mark Schultz, who not only wrote every song on Blue Skies Calling, but he also sang and played acoustic, lead, and slide guitars. Though that's not apparently clear here, it's the likely scenario.
The album opens with a percolating and funky instrumental, "Mr. Coluzzi," and almost sets the tone of what's to come, yet this disc is kind of a mix of various styles and genres. Nonetheless, Coluzzi must have been one hip cat as this tune kicks with high-spirits, fine horn charts, plus Schultz's fret work is sharp, and there's pumping bass work from John Prevetti. Southern blues-rock prevails on "World Weary and Blue," with fine slide playing by Schultz, and a rip roaring guitar solo, but his vocals are less than tantalizing as are the lyrics, but it's upbeat and a fun ride. The haunting and soulful "Bring it Back" shifts moods smartly with Allman Brothers-like segments, with another nice solo by Schultz and saxophonist Bill Watson. It's a well crafted tune.
The heady instrumental "Marcel Marsupial" (same name as this record label) is a nice workout of creativity between Schultz and Watson; it's short and sweet yet leaves its mark on this interesting recording. Suddenly things go country on the title track, which has a Toy Caldwell/Marshall Tucker feel, it's also pretty, well written, touching, and more than appropriate to be awarded the title track insignia. The longest track (six minutes plus), "Love In Vain," is one of the few blues-tinged tunes included and has some okay moments, but for the most part it's not that memorable. Moving along, it's obvious that the best tracks have been stacked up front, though the (all too short) "Broke Down" is sweet and offers a tantalizing guitar solo by Schultz.
Joining Schultz are John Prevetti on bass (Danny Gatton), Bruce Crump on drums (Molly Hatchett), Rickie Simkins on violin and mandolin (Emmylou Harris), the aforementioned Watson on sax, and other gifted musicians.
A special bonus on the new CD is a CD-ROM featuring a one-hour guitar lesson given to Schultz by the one and only Danny Gatton that was recorded in the late 1970s in Gatton's living room before his death. This feature is for guitar players only...
All in all, Blues Skies Calling is interesting debut that offers hot licks and (at times) some catchy tunes. I don't expect this to be any kind of a breakout recording, but perhaps a signpost of better things to come from Boy Wells, otherwise (I think) known as Mark Schultz's band. Roll on.
Bob Putignano a senior contributing editor at BluesWax. He is also the heart of Sounds of Blues at www.SoundsofBlue.com. Bob maybe contacted at: email@example.com
Bob Putignano: www.SoundsofBlue.com