Chris Maresh • Charles Barkatz • Derek O’brien (standing) • Mark Kaz Kazanoff • Nick Connolly (standing) • John Chipman (kneeling) • Stuart Sullivan (standing) • John McLean

I met John Mclean in early 2019. He said he wanted to make a blues record in Austin with his Parisian guitar pal Charles Barkatz. I was skeptical, not  having heard of John or Charles in the ‘blues’ world. But as John sent me their 'demo’ recordings, I began to hear their beautiful and original take on the blues. Not your typical contemporary blues, this material focused on wonderful new poetical lyrics, and songs that created moods ranging from raw deep blues to jazzy, almost impressionistic, grooves. Our keyboardist, Nick Connolly, lightheartedly described the music as “beatnik blues”. But there is a hard edge of sorrow and existential desperation to the songs, which demanded a high level of collaboration among John, Charles, myself, all the musicians, and Stuart Sullivan, our recording engineer. We all played together in a big room at Wire Recording. The musical result depended on everyone’s creative and spontaneous effort, led by our incredible rhythm section of Derek Obrien on guitar, Chris Maresh on bass, and John Chipman on drums. Given the uniqueness and freshness of the songs, I was comfortable adding instruments not often present in contemporary blues. So, we welcomed Alex Coke on alto flute and soprano saxophone, and Elaine Barber on harp. The Texas Horns added their punchy tight arrangements. I hope you will hear and enjoy the fun and excitement we all shared in making this music!                      Kaz

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