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Doug Adamz & Dan Hayes - Blues Duo

Blue Skunk Music

10 tracks/31:37

Adamz and Hayes have known each other for over thirty years and, according to the press release, they have played thousands of gigs all over northern California. They have developed a n acoustic blues format that is quite appealing. Unfortunately, the minimal liner notes with the review copy and the press release make no distinction about who is doing what on the recording. Apparently both men play guitar and harmonica in addition to contributing vocal parts.

One of the main attractions of this disc is the fantastic sound captured by engineer Peter Viehoever. Recorded live at the Marshall Music House, the guitar strings ring out bright and clear while the harmonica parts are equally nuanced. The vocal parts gain some depth from a slight bit of natural echo from the room where the recording took place. Another plus is the ten original songs that the duo authored, with seven from the pen of Dan Hayes. It is a treat to listen to a recording that shuns over-done standards in favor of new tunes.

Of course, that approach works only if the new material is strong enough to grab a listener’s attention. Adamz & Hayes are up to the task as their work bristles with energy and humor. “Traveling Man” is an up-tempo track that features some fine country-style harp. Slower cuts like “Don’t Ruin What We’re Doing” show that the years of playing together have allowed the duo to craft a totally integrated sound. The guitar parts create enough rhythm to compensate for the lack of bass and drums while the harmonica fills in the arrangements. The darkest track, “Pawn Your Guitar”, examines the emotional price musicians pay when money is tight and your instrument is all you have left. “I Was Crazy” adopts a rockabilly flavor and features some adept guitar picking followed by another dynamic harp solo.

The last two tracks don’t connect quite as well. “Oh Lightnin’ ” is a tribute to Texas legend Lightnin’ Hopkins. There is some nice guitar work but nothing that approaches the idiosyncrasy of that legendary bluesman. Additionally, the lyrics are not very compelling, a problem that is even more pronounced on the closing cut, “Mini Skirt Alert”. Adamz and Hayes rescue that upbeat number with expert guitar picking and some strong vocal harmonizing.

Both men have strong voices with good range that fit the easy-going nature of their material. They are also excellent acoustic musicians. While none of the tracks on Blues Duo will blow you away, the disc definitely shows that the Adamz & Hayes have found a niche that fits them perfectly. Despite the short playing time, this recording is recommended for fans of the acoustic blues format.

Reviewer Mark Thompson is president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL

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