Nico Wayne Toussaint is a new blues harp star from the South of France who has yet to seriously hit North Europe. But given time and a few choice festival appearances, and France's answer to Rod Piazza will surely soon carve out a name for himself.
First up were local hero's Mudzilla who delivered a pleasing set of boogie woogie underpinned Texas Blues. Like a lot of French bands, they enjoy an overt Jimmy Vaughan fixation, but for all that, impressed with their musical dexterity, and enthusiasm.
Enter Nico Wayne Toussaint, who is basically a class act. If finding a blues festival in a farming community was surprising enough, then imagine stumbling upon a mighty harp player with a fine band belting out a dance friendly mix of West Coast Swing and Chicago inspired Blues in an impressive local community hall
But young Nico it turns out doesn't do things by half ! From his formative musical sojourn to the States - he got his middle name from his American Godfather - to his sharp dressed, confident on stage performance, Toussaint is born to blow the blues.
There are elements of James Cotton's dirt harp sound, to the more swing inflected embellishments of Charlie Musselwhite style. Beyond that a subtle blend of Paul Lamb and Rod Piazza spring to mind, while his west Coast groove also comes close to the late William Clarke.
In sum, Nico's set is borrowed from many worthy mentors, and while some of the material, notably Talk To Your Daughter is a little well worn, the man has a magnificient harp tone , and a superb voice. In fact he's just about the best harp playing blues vocalist of the moment.
Highlights of a blistering set included Little By Little, Cadillac Baby from his current album, Blasting the Blues(Dixie Frog records), and a mid set shuffle that featured guitarist Rax Lacour, and a superb pianist/Hammond player who's name I didn't catch.
A fine set then from a great band, fronted by a rising star of the blues harp
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