Dave Hole -- Controlled Frenzy
A little over five years ago, I found myself stunned and in shock, standing in the rain at the Bayfront Blues Fest, thinking I had just possibly heard the best slide ever. As I sloshed over to hear Marcia Ball at the alternate stage, Dave Hole's fiery slide kept ringing in my ears. That was 1995, and this is Saturday morning, year 2000. You see, the ringing sounds and mystery have never gone away. I have oft wondered, "Was he THAT good or was it the 'barley pop' and the atmosphere of the Blues Fest?"
Yesterday, I wrote a post encouraging you to see "one of the hottest slides on this planet" return at Famous Dave's. I'm sorry, I misspoke. This guy is 10 times better then I remembered. (O.K., you do the math.) This 50 something "Aussie" not only plays the slide upsidedown & backwards, he has a fire in his belly and on the fret board that would scorch the fur off a Koala Bear.
Playing with his hand held over the guitar neck, a style he developed while waiting for a broken finger to heal, Dave developed a sound & style all his own. When the finger healed, there was no goin' back, and he continued playing "wrong" for all the "right" reasons. His pleasing stage presence coupled with what you might expect if "Chuck Berry 'Learnt' Slide", combine to propel this artist into a league of his own. Last night, Dave was playing with a band he put together only 10 gigs ago for his US tour. A solid sound that even a Scandinavian could dance to. I sit here this morning telling you I have heard a legend and master. Brisk, Scathing, Exhilaratingly Relentless are just a few descriptors to characterize this giant.
It wasn't until 1991, when on a whim, he mailed a copy of his work to Guitar Player Magazine that he was truly discovered. Their comments? "Magnificent slide work - ferocious, fire breathing" - "Dave sprays a steely fire all over the strings, navigating stratospheric leaps with the greatest of ease." "If this guy played with more feeling, he'd have to go on Prozac." "One of the most incendiary guitarist ever..... jaw-dropping slide work." I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. Not bad for a guy that was totally unknown and didn't even set foot on US soil until late 1993.
Two of my favorite albums are his 1995 release "Steel on Steel" and the 1999 release of "Under the Spell". Both are on Alligator. You could best characterize these albums as Hard Rockin', Drivin' Blues with Rampaging Vocals. I'm working for a return visit by mid-2001, that is, if he doesn't do a melt-down and become a molten blob first!
Oh, by the way, did I mention that I like this guys sound and style?
I had to write this today, because tomorrow, John Mooney is at Brew Baker's. I'm not sure the body and soul can handle this much "over the top" slide in one weekend.
John Mooney -- Uncontrolled Frenzy
If Dave Hole is described as "Controlled Frenzy"; John Mooney can only be described as "Uncontrolled Frenzy". This former "bad boy" turned "stay at home dad" moved from New Orleans to Florida several years ago to put his life back in order; And put it in order he did!
The biggest difference between Hole and Mooney is that when Hole wanders down the musical highway of classic legends, Mooney has "Gone to Hell," his latest release on Blind Pig, and sets his own limits which is "no limits", with only one speed, - "fast forward". This 12 bar legend should start a "12 step program" for his almost haunting Delta sound. In addition to the scathing intensity of his "power slide" style, his distinctively haunting sound comes most definitely from his conga drum master, Alfred "Uganda" Roberts. The music reeks of the Delta, New Orleans Congo Square and Voodoo. Man, I love that smell and would love to bottle it. Writing most of his material, he will play an occasional "cover" but only after doing his own "John Mooney" arranging. The music is as unique as the man, going in one direction and then the other, but always relentless. Some of his music is somewhat mindful of another Louisiana great Sonny Landtreth.
Even though the Sunday night Brew Baker's crowd was moderate, he played with the same intensity he does for 100,000 people at the New Orleans Jazz Fest each year. Playing until the liquor license started to vibrate off the wall, Mooney gave it all - all night.
You always leave a John Mooney experience wondering if you have just rubbed elbows with the Devil! - This guy ain't no Lawrence Welk!
This review is copyright © 2000 by Jim Pinckney, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.