B.C. READ: BOWL OF SUGAR (BLUE BUDDA)
A. Grigg "Real Blues Magazine"
Welcome back B.C. Read! Back in 1998 B.C. released a debut disc “My Tunes” that floored critics across Canada and the U.S. and Big Things were predicted for the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan native (in 2002 a “Live” disc apparently came out but few outside Saskatchewan heard it). But, the man they called “a natural talent” vanished from the radar leaving fans to ponder, “Whatever became of…”
Well, despite his ‘retirement’, “Bowl Of Sugar” is an album that sounds like a natural progression from “My Tunes”, giving listeners more of the honest, down-to-earth True Blues that B.C.’s known for. Assembling some of Western Canada’s finest players (and both friends and fans of B.C.’s) there’s an intimate labor-of-love feeling that’s pervasive throughout. While B.C. Read is not 100% Pure Blues, his music is akin to Delbert McClinton/John Hiatt’s just-plain-good genre with enough Blues Foundation to keep a whole mess of music-lovers happy. Diverse fare for sure but all top quality and honest.
“Once And Awhile” opens the disc in rollicking fashion, a horn-driven Blues Rocker about a nasty girl, the kind musicians sometimes meet. Great dance floor fare and the band (Glenn Ens – drums, George Tennent – bass, Rod Salloum – organ/piano, Doug Scarrow – guitar, Sheldon Corbett – sax, David Anderson – trumpet, Ross Ulmer – trombone, S. Kelly Read and Sharon Mathison – background vocals, B.C. – guitar) do a sharp and slick job. Next up is a tongue-in-cheek “A Blues Man’s Got To Wear A Hat” with guest Big Dave McLean guesting on harp (nice acoustic) and Tom Cunningham on drums. B.C. dares to challenge Blues Etiquette and opts for going against the stereotype. “Loves Rule” is an excellent little number that has a timeless and genre-spanning identity with an easy-going sermon on Life (“Life is short, there’s only one to live, you can’t expect to get more than you give…”) and a strong and memorable score. Track #6, “Can’t Be Found” is a gem with its’ tuba and Dixieland horn climax and typical of Read’s talents and taste, both of which are unique. “Louisiana Dream” is an ode to New Orleans (as it once was) with B.C. showing-off his tasty guitar chops. Guitarists like him use their instrument to paint hues in the song picture unlike the macho power wankers. “Garbage Man” is one of the best tracks, a story of a woman who leaves a trail of destruction in her wake but delivered with a sense of comedy. (I see/hear others grabbing this tune to record). “So Glad” is easily the Dee Jay pick of this album and it has C&W potential as well as Blues & Roots audience appeal. Hearing this should convince any Record Label executive with taste/ears that B.C. Read is an exceptional talent worth signing. It’s a Love Song delivered in a whole new way with great Barrelhouse piano, harmonica banjo, guitar (and bass & drums) that defines The Joy love can bring.
A big change of pace is “Raining & Pouring” a T-Bone Walker-ish Texas-style Blues complete with vintage guitar and piano. Beautiful, slow soulful stuff that proves B.C. can do it that way if he so desires. “Why Do Girls Do That” is actually Big Dave and B.C. doing a funky Blues duet. Nice guitar hook and harp from Big Dave (a Canadian Blues icon). “Bowl Of Sugar”, the title track, is the 15th and last track and it’s a fun, good-time dance floor shuffle that does define the album and B. C. Read. (Have some fun ‘cause when you’re dead you’re done!).
Yes, B.C. Read is back and “Bowl Of Sugar” reiterates all that was said back in 1998. Good-time Blues, excellent song writing, loads of talent and B.C.’s recipe for curing all our Blues. After all, a Bluesman is supposed to Heal us, right? 5 Bottles of Saskatoon Berry wine for an excellent ‘comeback’ album from one of Canada’s finest.