112 North Duck - Dog at Your Door
13 songs; 48:17 minutes; Splendid
Style: Americana, Blues, Rock and Roll, Classic Country
112 North Duck? Why, "They’re an American band / They’re coming to your town / They’ll help you party it down / They’re an American band!" With a nod to song authors Brewer and George of Grand Funk Railroad and apologies for the changes, this song came to mind when I was thinking how to describe this Omaha, Nebraska based band to readers.
Their slogan, "Pronounced wun-twelv-north-duk," is designed for the phonetically challenged (and those appreciative of humor). The boys are much like my friend Tim "Too Slim" Langford of Too Slim & The Taildraggers, they can play Blues when they want. But, they have too much fun playing an eclectic mix of American music to limit themselves to any one genre. The group’s strengths feature an outstanding tenor lead singer, Brendan Riley, and a killer guitar player, Michael Beebe, supported by a solid rhythm section that double as team writers.
The band has been performing since 2004 and is named for "a place where the cowboys would go after many long hard days on the prairie. It’s a place where they could get their fill of rest, relaxation, entertainment, and the always important, female companionship." While their first CD in 2006 covered classics by Blues greats, their notable 2007 release (reviewed for The Blues Blast) had eleven originals. This 2009 release has ten originals by band members and three numbers contributed by friends.
The personnel are the same except bass (Luger is out; Nauman is in): Brendan Riley - vocals, guitar, harmonica; Michael Beebe -guitar, vocals; David George Nauman - bass guitar; and J. E. Van Horne - drums.
Also continued (Thank you) are guitars driving the album. There is plenty of tasty slide guitar, clever hooks, and soloing to satisfy. But, you will not hear guitar wanking, as in one lengthy improvised and ponderous guitar solo after another. Here the songs are concise and to the point - most less than four minutes in length and only three slightly exceed four minutes.
My favorite track is the Bluesy "I Can’t Take Her Home to Mama." The protagonist visits three different locales (Louisiana, France, Maine) and, in each, finds a woman who satisfies, but none are worthy of parental presentation. This song immediately brought back memories of another song with a similar theme, "Trashy Women" by Chris Wall and Jerry Jeff Walker. Except, in "Trashy Women," the narrator did take her "home to Mama" with humorous results, "[They] said, ‘Well, pardon us, son, she ain’t no kid! / That’s a cocktail waitress in a Dolly Parton wig / I said, ‘I know it Dad. Ain’t she cool! That’s the kind I dig!’"
Speaking of clever guitar hooks, the first track’s opener is infectious. Then, at 49 seconds in, the boys nail some great four part harmony as they sing a tribute to a truly good woman. "She’s my lover as well as my best friend...."
For great harmonic slide guitar, give "Unravel" a spin. For train sounding harp and locomotive rhythm, try "This Train." For a slower stomp, "Natural Disaster" simply burns! For dance floor nookie nuzzling, "I’ve Been Dreaming" includes Cully Joyce on a nice saxophone solo.
Full of military cadence rhythm and patriotic spirit, this American band closes the set with the uplifting "All Together You Stand" which, along with the entire album, is dedicated "in honor of all the troops who have sacrificed so much for our country."
By an American band, this CD from the heartland should move from them to your hand. For it, Blues purists will not stand, but it will be grand for any party you’ve planned.
Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Thursdays from 7 - 8 pm and Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at www.wkccradio.org in Kankakee, IL
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