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Travis Moonchild Haddix – Old Man In Love

Benevolent Blues 2011

12 tracks; 47.41 minutes

Travis Moonchild Haddix has been around for a long time and I believe that this is his twentieth CD! Born in Mississippi, he was inspired at a young age by BB King and started playing and singing in his early teens, first in Madison WI before moving to Cleveland, where he is still based. He recorded for Ichiban in the 1990s and when that label folded he started his own Wann Sonn label. His most recent CDs have appeared on Californian label Benevolent Blues, as does this new one.

The music here is solid blues/soul with a dash of funk, but some of the songs have some clever lyrical flourishes that help Travis to distinguish himself from the pack. In some ways his style reminds me of Larry Garner, the way he injects humour into his songs. An obvious example is “Cialis Before I See Alice”, a song about the pressures of modern love affairs: “I know a lady named Alice she lives way across town. I know what Alice wants every time I come around. I’m almost as old as sin and I’m running out of pep. Every now and then I need a little help. I need Cialis before I see Alice.” All this wrapped up in a catchy shuffle and clean and clear production makes for an excellent and amusing track.

There are other examples of Travis’ sense of humor on the CD. Opener “She Hit A Grand Slam” sees Travis having a strange dream about his girl becoming an ace baseball player! In “Cix Spells Six” Travis explains that “My guitar and six women is all I need, ‘cos I’m a family man, I got six women in my life: two daughters, three sisters, don’t forget about my wife.” “Stiff Stuff” tackles an issue that those of us who are getting older can appreciate: “Wake up in the morning before I get out of bed, my neck is so stiff I can hardly raise my head. I lay back down, it’s the only thing to do. That’s when I found my shoulders are stiff too”!

Some of the songs take a more serious look at issues. Title track “Old Man In Love” tells the tale of a guy so desperately in love that she “can tell me to go to hell in such a way that I’m looking forward to the trip”. Even when he catches her in bed with the neighbour he accepts her explanation. “Break A Habit With A Habit” is a slow blues which deals with a woman who has many issues to deal with and is advised by Travis that simply replacing one habit with another is not a solution.

So Travis has a clever turn with a song lyric, but what of the music behind the songs? I am pleased to say that the playing is excellent and Travis’ vocals are always clear, framed by the full sound of the band in a well-produced CD. Credit is due to Travis for that too, as he is the producer as well as the writer of all the material here, playing guitar and tackling all the vocals. None of the band member names were familiar to me but they all do an excellent job: Ed Lemmers, bass; Brian Hager and Mike Calhoun, guitars; Gil Zachary, piano; Don Williams, organ; Jeremy Sullivan, drums. The horns add a strong flavour to the music: Jeff Hager, trumpet and arrangements; David Ruffin, tenor sax; TJ Fortunato, baritone sax.

A thoroughly enjoyable CD which I can recommend. Perhaps this will be the one that breaks into the main blues market for Travis Moonchild Haddix.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music.

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