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December's blues show at KSDS Jazz Live got a definite shot in the arm tonight with the performance of singer /songwriter, country blues specialist Doug Macleod.

Macleod is as much a storyteller as anything else, and his stories are pretty entertaining. He prefaced each song with some subtle instrumental foreshadowing while he set up the idea, or revealed the punch-line as it were.

Amidst all the laughter and tall tales were the surprisingly supple power of his vocals and a true mastery of the National Delphi Resonator guitar, which he affectionately referred to as his "mule." While many of his pieces began with a kind of stereotypical "boogie" type introduction, with the aid of his rock-solid foot stomps-- Macleod often improvised up a storm, injecting many bits of dialog not commonly associated with the country blues style-- octaves and moveable chord voicings along with chromatic contouring of the blues scale.

Throughout it all, he demonstrated the one thing master musicians have in common: a unifying sense of flow. One man, one voice, one guitar and two feet proved to be all that was necessary for 90 minutes of compelling music making.

Opening with an obvious metaphor for death, "Long Black Train," alternated between percussive thumb-strokes and long stretches cleanly executed finger-picked chords, while the lyrics painted ambiguous notions on when the conductor might call your "last stop."

Macleod's songs have been covered by many top-notch bluesmen and women, perhaps most notably Albert King's version of "Your Bread Aint Done," an allegory concerning the mentally unstable, of which he slyly observed, one out of every three persons, is a member.

As the evening progressed, Macleod began exploring alternate tunings and using the slide to create textures that were grounded in the pioneering works of Son House and Elmore James, but always with a totally original direction that explored a much broader range of the instrument.

The man is a veteran performer, that's for sure. He often had the crowd cracking up with his well timed stories and lyrical innuendo, like when he sang, " she makes love so good to me, you think it's happening to you."

You couldn't help but like this guy, even if the blues weren't necessarily your cup of tea.


Photo of Doug Macleod by Chad Fox

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