Pickett/Browne Concert Review
( , Wallaceburg, ON, Canada)
Jeanne Gordon Theatre
Wallaceburg, ON, Canada
October 2002

Michael Pickett, one of Canada's top rack harmonica players and an outstanding slide guitarist, and Michael Jerome Brown, one of the best traditional blues instrumentalists in Canada, delighted those who attended by performing a variety of blues standards, from Leadbelly to Robert Johnson, then adding original roots blues tunes from their extensive repertoires.

Pickett has been a regular on the Toronto blues scene since the early 1970's when he fronted an outstanding blues outfit called Whiskey Howl. He has gone on to lead The Michael Pickett Band and has only recently begun to concentrate more fully on a roots blues solo career.

It was obvious from the passion he poured into the music and the emotion that poured from the stage that he has made the right choice. Roots blues enthusiasts won't find a performer with a better feel for the music. Outstanding harmonica and solid guitar work, at times on his 1931 National resophonic guitar, accompanied by rough-edged vocals ideally suited for the blues make him a must-see for blues fans.

Michael Jerome Brown looked somewhat like an accountant when he made his entrance onto the Jeanne Gordon stage, only the brightly-coloured tie giving him away as someone with a different purpose. But he worked magic on guitar and gourd banjo, adding a vocal line that seemed to exactly suit his musical style.

Brown is a walking blues encyclopedia, so between songs there was a most interesting dialogue that really tuned the audience into the performance. He plays a wide variety of traditional blues-styled music, from Robert Johnson to Jimi Hendrix (his version of Hendrix' Manic Depression left younger members of the audience amazed). Check him out if you get the chance.

One of the highlites of the show and saved 'til the end was when Pickett and Brown took to the stage together, at one point playing a pair of 1930's vintage National guitars. It was sheer blues magic of a kind not often seen in this part of the world - gutsy and pronounced, emotional and passionate.

John Gardiner



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