Nigel Mack is one of the up and coming bluesmen who interestingly call Canada home. Born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and currently residing in Vancouver, British Columbia, Nigel Mack (full name Nigel Mackenzie) is a fine young singer/songwriter, guitarist, slide player and a surprising master of the blues harp. After seeing Nigel Mack perform live at the Chicago Blues Festival a couple of years ago, I was looking forward to seeing him again at one of the mid-week blues shows at Legend's Bar & Grill in St. Cloud, Minnesota.
Backed by a three-piece band that included Alex Krahe (guitar), Ron Thompson (bass) and Canadian blues legend Duris Maxwell on drums, Mack put on an excellent and enthusiastic performance at Legend's. After putting down two songs, "Walking By Myself" and "Let The Good Times Roll," without their leader, Nigel played his way onto the stage during song number three, an instrumental that included some smokin' blues harp boogie by Mack and an excellent guitar solo by Alex Krahe. The song got Mack's portion of the first set off to a blistering start.
Mack's set was a mix of creative originals and nicely done covers. Mack continued his blistering blues harp on Willie Dixon's "Baby I Want To Be Loved" and demonstrated his prowess on slide guitar during his performance of Hound Dog Taylor's, "Give Me Back My Wig." Near the end of the set, Mack shifted back to the harp for what appeared to be something of a tribute to the great Chicago harp players as he performed James Cotton's "Who Do The Voodoo To You" and "Born In Chicago," a song made famous by the late Paul Butterfield.
Among the notable originals during the set were "Bedroom Eyes," a hookish song about a married man being tempted by the new, seductive office assistant. One of the most exceptional songs from the first set was "Letter from the Birmingham Jail," a song dedicated to, and written about, the late Martin Luther King with a lowdown, from the alley blues feeling that included more of Mack's sharp slide guitar. As evidence of the "Mack attack," Nigel lost one of his two amplifiers early in the set and "blew out" two harps, evidence of the effort that he puts into his work each night.
As always, it was a great evening of entertainment at Legend's Bar & Grill in St. Cloud. Just one of a fine lineup of performers at Legend's, Nigel Mack put on a fine show and presented a formidable challenge to the Minnesota Twins ALCS baseball game in the bar. As expected, the performance of Nigel Mack & Blues Attack left me anxiously anticipating Mack's next visit "south of the border" into Minnesota.
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This review is copyright © 2002 by Dave "Doc" Piltz, and Blues On Stage at: www.mnblues.com, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission.
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