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Big Dog Mercer - Big Dog Mercer

Electro Glide Records

10 tracks

One of the fun things abut reviewing music is that you get a lot of stuff from guys and gals you have never heard of to review. On the surface that could sound like it was a bad thing. What I have found is that more often than not it is a local artist who is working their craft, trying to get some exposure. For good, bad or indifferent, I have also found that there are a lot of pretty damn good guitar players, musicians and singers out there and some of them can write pretty good original songs. Marty Mercereau (aka Big Dog Mercer) is one of them.

A Wisconsin boy schooled in Chicago blues, Marty has won accolades in Chicago and its' south suburban areas for his guitar play, vocals and band. The CD is on a growing label and for the most part was recorded live in the studio with no over dubs, so what you hear is what they've got. He proudly claims to have only used Delay and Wah pedals only on one tracks and that he plugged directly into the amp and played.

Big Dog is on guitar and vocals, Bobby Scumaci is on B3 and piano, John Huet and Doug Horan share the bass duties and Larry "The Animal" Ortega is on drums. The band is focused and tight throughout and the songs are all original and written by Mercer. The band seems to have done their time together and work as a team. The sound is big and driving but not overpowering. Clean riffs and leads, really good backline stuff, and (when featured) the organ and keys are savory and sweet.

Mercer starts with the semi-biographical "Big Dog's Blues", a hot and romping track with nice piano and guitar solos. He's "been in the doghouse so long" that they now "call me the big dog" won't win him any Pulitzer prizes, but it sure is fun. He bemoans being plagued by a voodoo doll in "Stickin' Pins Into Me," another driving and rocking track with good guitar. The Delay and Wah are not overdone on "Wimmen Trouble" and his vocals also sell this one. "Some Other Fool" gives us some more driving beat and throbbing guitar with some gutsy vocals that remind me a bit of a gruffer styled Warren Haynes. Mercer adds a stinging guitar solo, too. Slow and real down and dirty blues are what we get with "Drinkin' Blues;"nice opening guitar work and we finally get to hear the B3. He sings of the life in taverns and quitting drinking. Well done.

Marty then rocks out a bit with "Prelude", a nice instrumental more in the rock vein. "Helpless" is a bluesy southern rock sounding testimonial where Mercer describes he s helpless and asks God's assistance. The slide reminds me a little of Dickey Betts on this one. He picks up the pace on "It's Because of You, " a somewhat frantic and rocking blues. "Big Dog Will Treat You Right" is more gutsy vocals and driving guitar, and he describes his Big Dog prowess with the "wimmen." Closing up is "Thank You, Jesus," classic slow blues where we get to hear the B3 again where this time they send us to Church. He thanks the Savior for what he's done for the Big Dog. I especially love the big organ solo followed by the guitar solo here.

This is a good CD and a fun listen over all. No bad songs, some really good ones and a nice overall sound. I loved the vocals and guitar and the keys/B3 on 3 tracks were excellent. I enjoyed a taste of the Big Dog's music and I hope to see him live- this is worth a spin or two in your CD players!

Reviewer Steve Jones is president of the Crossroads Blues Society and is a long standing blues lover. He is a retired Navy commander who served his entire career in nuclear submarines. In addition to working in his civilian career since 1996, he writes for and publishes the bi-monthly newsletter for Crossroads, chairs their music festival and work with their Blues In The Schools program. He resides in Byron, IL.

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