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Big Mamma’s Door - Handbagged

9 Tracks

British blues fans across the United Kingdom nominated Big Mamma’s Door in six categories for 2011 British Blues Awards. While none of the nominees were honored with an award at this past September’s third annual Newark Blues Festival in Nottinghamshire, this London-based five piece blues band is a welcome new blues discovery for me. Big Mamma’s Door received the following well-deserved nods: Best Album (Handbagged), Best Original Blues Song (“Handbagged”), Best Female Vocals (Fiona McElroy), Best Keyboard (Henri Herbert), Best Drums (Rob Pokorny), and Best Bass (John Culleton).

Hanbagged features nine songs that range from the rollicking “We Got a Good Thing Going” and “Another Night” to the sad and contemplative love song “Letting You Go.” Mal Barclay’s exceptional guitar paired with Henri Herbert’s nuanced piano playing ushers in “A Little Mad About You,” and I particularly like the way John Culleton and Rob Pokorny lay a strong bass and drum foundation to “Give It to Me” (and the song ends with a tasteful and short drum solo). I hear a lot of Professor Longhair, Roosevelt Sykes and Henry Gray in Henri Herbert’s piano playing, and it’s a consistent bright spot on a consistently satisfying blues album. When not working with Big Mamma’s Door, Mel and Henri play with The Cadillac Kings, a popular British six-piece swing band.

I hope that British blues fans continue to support Big Mamma’s Door as they look forward to the 2012 British Blues Awards next September. In the meantime, visit and listen to several professionally-produced videos from their performance at the High Barn on St. Patrick’s Day, including “Handbagged,” “Letting You Go,” and “A Little Mad About You.”

Reviewer Eric Steiner is president of the Washington Blues Society Washington Blues Society in Seattle, Washington, and a member of the Board of Directors of The Blues Foundation in Memphis, Tennessee.

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