Don "Scotty" Scott has been splitting time between his home in rural Chatfield, Minnesota, and various points southwest (mostly the Tucson area) for the past few years. This spring when he migrated north, he had a new CD in tow--"Scotty's Blues." This is his second solo release, following "Highway 52" which was released in 1997 and was nominated for a Minnesota Music Academy Award. Those who are not familiar with Scotty as a solo artist may recall him from his long (and sporadically still continuing) stint with southern Minnesota's Dust Bowl Blues Band. Dust Bowl has marketed several tapes of their own work over the years.
Like "Highway 52" this release combines acoustic folk/country blues, electric blues and even a couple jazzy cuts. Some cuts find Scotty performing solo, some with a full band including a keyboardist and saxophonist. Five of the cuts were written by Don. The others are for the most part well-known blues standards.
Performance wise, I think Scotty's strong point is his guitar playing. He plays acoustic, electric and National Steel guitars on this release. His talents are particularly evident on those acoustic works which showcase his guitar work. His vocal skills are also solid, however. While his baritone to tenor-range voice (with a midwest twang) approaches its limit in the higher octaves, he stays within its range and delivers pleasing vocals.
Two of the songs Scotty wrote are highly autobiographical memorials, mourning the recent death of his mother Elizabeth (The Best In Every Way) and friend/bandmate/producer Emil McAndrew (Blues For Emil). The release is, in fact, dedicated to them. The tunes are heart wrenching.
Two of his other compositions--both solo slide guitar numbers--Dreamy Eyed Baby and Long Distant Driver are examples of Scotty's prowess as a song writer. These songs deserve to be hits, and beg to be covered by an artist with a bit more market power--or better yet to catapult Scotty into the "big time."
Three of the tunes are jazzy instrumentals. "Studio Call" has an appealing progression of saxophone, guitar and organ solos. St. James Infirmary is done as a solo acoustic number. The remaining tunes are done with varying versions of the full band, generally in a somewhat light, fast paced fashion. There are some particularly tasty sax and well-placed keyboard in addition to the guitar work throughout the "band" cuts.
In addition to Scotty, the musicians are: Carla Brownlee-- sax; Ralph Gilmore--drums & percussion; Steve Grams--bass; and Ducan Still--keyboards. Kit Kildahl plays guitar on one cut and splits the harmonica duties with Barry Stillwagon on four other cuts.
I've been amongst those Mankato area residents who have over the past twenty-five years or so watched Scotty evolve from essentially a musical novice who was perhaps more interested in partying in clubs than performing in them to a very competent, well--rounded musician. I think he has arrived and am a bit proud of him. Check out his recordings, or better yet a rare live performance.
"Scotty's Blues" is available at select area independent record stores or can be ordered directly by sending $16.00 to "Scotty's Blues," PO Box 507, Chatfield, MN 55923.
This review is copyright © 1999 by Mark Halverson, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.