Mark Riley is not only a connoisseur of the blues, but a well-rounded guitar player, vocalist, writer, arranger, and producer. After 35 years of experience, Riley comes full circle from rockin' electric blues to the acoustic Delta inspired sounds of Love & Trouble.
Riley is a guitar player first and foremost and is able to successfully adapt to any genre with ease. It has been a natural transition for this gifted musician. His first release, Lead Suit, was an electric guitar driven recording with sax and harmonica thrown in for good measure. Leap of Faith, Riley's second solo release, had a variety of textures with a mix of electric, acoustic, and resonator guitars. When Riley joined Little Bill and the Blue Notes in 1995, Bill encouraged him to experiment with acoustic sounds. Not only did this profoundly help mold the sound of the band from a Chicago style 7 piece to a Delta style trio but also won Mark Riley "Best Acoustic Guitar" in both 1998 and 1999 at the Washington Blues Society Awards.
While Love & Trouble is comprised mainly of original material, Mark Riley pays homage to the legendary Blind Blake with respect original arrangement on a version of "Police Dog Blues". With Billy Stapleton accompanying him on Slide Guitar, the original composition, "Better Watch Out" is chock-full of multifaceted guitar work while Riley's vocals are well traveled. The guitarist tackles the Memphis Slim tune, "Life Is Like That", accompanied only by an electric acoustic guitar. Harmonica maestro, Dick Powell, joins Mark on another original composition, "Like Letting Go", which gives the tune an intimate jam session feel. The only song that features more than a duo is "Shot Of Bourbon Street", bringing in Northwest Blues Divas, Patti Allen and Kathi MacDonald on backing vocals, and saxophonist, Jim Pribenow, and trumpeter, Haadi Al-Sadoon, to add a Louisiana flavor.
Love & Trouble is Mark Riley's best and most personally gratifying recording to date. Riley's playing is nothing short of brilliant as he combines elements of blues, bluegrass, folk and country in each song. With all the ingredients of a live performance, each song leaves the listener anticipating the next track.
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