Big City Blues
Chicago, Illinois, USA
June-July 2000
Blues Money Review

North of the border in Toronto, Canada is a harpman named Michael Pickett.  He has been blowing air through those registers for over 30 years.  He is well-recognized by the Canadian scene for his dynamic guitar and vocals as well.  This is a debut release from 1998; and while [this review] is a bit dated, let's hope it introduces him to a new crop of listeners.  This release received a 1998 Juno award nomination for Best Blues Album, and has gathered awards from Canadian blues and jazz publications.

Michael's blues are a combined Chicago and West Coast brand that jump, squirm, and sometimes wiggle.  His bluesy harp playing is well-balanced with his positively pious vocal profile.  It seems as if his voice has been soaked in brine and wrung out - a very individual character.  There's no slouching on Michael's part in this regard, as it stands out front well and never shirks.  That's great confidence for a debut outing!

The very large cast of Toronto musicians who contributed to the effort seem well-attuned and largely supportive.  They include guitarists Neil Chapman, Teddy Leonard, Mike Francis, Colin Linden, and/or Slavka Kobrin; bassists Steve Chadwick, Malcolm McCuaig, or Leo Valvassori; keyboardists Richard Bell, Doug Romanow, or Doug Riley; and drummers Marty Cordrey, Shawn Eisenberg, or Dale-Anne Brendon.  Molly Johnson, John Pickering, Louise Pickett, and Tiki Mercury-Clarke are singing the background harmonies.  Percussionists include Paul Brennan and Rob Greenway.  John Johnson is playing sax, and Riley gives up the tack piano when needed.  Romanow also helps with the accordion line.

Take the time to sample this Pickett.  Michael has written lyrics and music for all twelve cuts on the CD.  They are every bit upbeat, high-stepping Canadian blues from a quality collection of musicians.  Take a look at spending Pickett's Blues Money .

Mark A. Cole


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