Moreland and Arbuckle
Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore.
Come to think of it, by the sound of things, maybe we never were.
While they kick up their feet in the Sunflower State when they have a moment's rest from their never-ending road work, the spirit of Moreland & Arbuckle surely belongs deep in the heart of the Magnolia State.
With a hypnotic sound thicker than the smoke rolling out of the gigantic barbeque grill parked against the front of Red's Lounge in Clarksdale, Miss., the boys from Wichita, Ks., are back with another slab of rhythm-and-boogie on their latest CD, "1861."
And just like the ribs that Red serves up to hungry patrons on a Friday night, there's plenty of meat on them bones on "1861."
Strengthened with two albums already under their belts, 2005's "Caney Valley Blues" and "Floyd's Market" from the following year, along with the requisite string of one nighters all across the globe in support of those releases, "1861" finds the trio of Aaron Moreland (guitar), Dustin Arbuckle (harp and vocals) and Brad Horner (drums) in peak fighting form.
Jump-started by a smokin' slice of Hound Dog Taylor's "Gonna Send Ya Back To Georgia," a house-rockin' version that no doubt would receive a thumbs up from Taylor, the legendary six-fingered slide rattler from the Windy City, Moreland & Arbuckle's first offering on the NorthernBlues label hits the ground running at full steam.
While Moreland & Arbuckle find time to pay homage to North Mississippi Hill Country forefathers with R.L. Burnside's "See My Jumper Hanging Out On The Line," a tune they absolutely destroy in concert, "1861," named for the year Kansas became a state, finds the trio comfortable in their home environment, and the personal nature of the songs reflect as much.
From a father teaching his son how to "catch a mess of fish 'fore the sun goes down" on "Fishin' Hole," to the simple pleasures of a boy and his dog setting out on a summer day's adventure in "Never Far Behind," "1861" paints a vivid picture of just how much Moreland & Arbuckle must love their home state. And the good old home cookin' that comes with it, as a road-weary Arbuckle asks his grandmother to fix him up right with a plate of her specialties on "Please, Please Mammy."
All is not completely rosy on "1861", as a Vietnam vet's struggles to fit back into to the land he helped defend is chronicled in "The Legend," a tune that gallops along like a stallion roaming the plains, punctuated by Moreland's icy jabs of slide guitar.
Then, much like it starts, "1861" ends with the boys laying down the goods with "Wiser Jam," a smoky instrumental that struts along like a tomcat on a fence rail, underpinned by guest Chris Wiser's Hammond B3.
But the bottom line is, whether they choose to hang their hats in Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, or even across the pond in England, matters little. What does matter is that Moreland & Arbuckle have delivered another heapin' helping of authentic roots music with "1861," served up nice and hot, Delta style.