July 22, 2000
Local Heroes Pickett, Downchild Prove Toronto Still Has The Blues
There's an interesting trend happening with recent recordings by Michael Pickett, Fathead, and The Sidemen," notes longtime local blues supporter and promoter Richard Flohil.
"All three are trying to push the envelope. Pickett's album, for instance, is very adventurous."
The 11 songs written by Pickett for his sophomore album, Conversation With The Blues , transcend the urban blues idiom with gospel, rural blues, and even classical musical touches. The album was independently released June 1 by Pickett's Wooden Teeth label; it is distributed by Festival Distribution Inc.
A lead vocalist and harmonica player from 1970-74 with Whiskey Howl (one of the city's first traditional blues bands) and sideman for US blues icons Big Mama Thornton, Koko Taylor, Sunnyland Slim, John Lee Hooker, and Bo Diddley over the years, Pickett claims he's more challenged by recording original songs than recycling standards.
"For me the blues is a living art form," he says. "I could write a tune about blues on the Mississippi Delta, or even write a tune in that idiom, but the lyrics have to be current. If you're going to regurgitate Got My Mojo Workin' , you better know what you're singing about."
© 2006 Michael Pickett