We all need friends. The harmony and deep joy sharing what we love with friends sustain you through hard times and dark times. Friends Along The Way, Mitch Woods eleventh album, is the perfect soundtrack to celebrate friendship. Mitch has gathered around him a galaxy of music stars on Friends Along The Way. The musicians are friends from across his career that has spanned four decades. Joining Mitch on the album are Van Morrison, Taj Mahal, Elvin Bishop, Charlie Musselwhite, Ruthie Foster, Joe Louis Walker, Maria Muldaur, Cyril Neville, Marcia Ball, John Hammond and Kenny Neal.
The album celebrates, friendship. The musical harmony of blues played together as guitar, drums and harmonica join forces with the boogie of the piano allowing the vocals to tell the narrative of life on the road. Friends Along The Way is a timely reminder of the central roll the piano has played in the blues. Blues is not just guitar-driven it has also been nurtured and fulfilled by the tinkle of the ivories. Mitch Wood’s piano playing is astounding with a personal acoustic connection. Classically trained his boogie-based piano has an energy and finesses that shines through as he plays with his friends.
Every track brings a blues spark ad element to the album. Opening the party with his friends Mitch Woods goes back in time joined by Van Morrison and Taj Mahal on a Leadbelly classic Take This Hammer. Van Morrison’s vocals are joined by his percussive tambourine playing as a drumstick tinkles the tambourine so the sound cascades with force across Taj’s guitar and the signature of the album, Mitch’s stylish piano playing. Ruthie Foster’s vocals on Singing The Blues adding textures with her guitar and the piano playing underneath. The urgency of the beat is intensified by an energy as the words take centre stage. John Hammond’s vocals take us back in time with Mother in Laws Blues. Leaving us Cryin For My Baby with a healthy dose of blues harp from Charlie Musslewhite. This is blues that is sharp, defined and shaping your mood with the piano of Mitch Woods never silent. No album with Mitch at the keys will be without a helping or two of Boogie Woogie. First up is Nasty Boogie, the party now is swinging who can resist smiling and swinging the hips with this vibe, as Joe Louis Walker adds to the mood with his stinging guitar and vocals.
Empty Bed Blues with Maria Muldaur on vocals, is deep, moody and sultry, a jazzy take on the blues. Wow, what a classy number that flows and her smoky voice caresses you as you succumb to her embrace. Cyril Neville and Mitch have a conversation as The Blues are celebrated. The legacy as we move forward and the musical heritage teat lives on in The Blues. This track is spoken narrative. I recommend that you sit back and listen to Cyril as his narrative is accompanied by Mitch’s piano. You will be captivated for five- minutes.
The tempo changes with more boogie as we turn for home with Saturday Night Boogie. Wow ow Wow the slide guitar from Elvin Bishop just fizzes against the piano. The six-strings and ivories are in musical harmony.
By track fourteen blues have been shaken and stirred, then we hear the guitar and vocals of John Lee Hooker joining Mitch’s piano on Never Get Out of These Blues Alive. This is blues played with a clarity of form and simplicity of shape. The result is perfection. Closing the album with In The Night. Friends have come together had fun and now Marcia Ball & Mitch Woods duet on the piano and vocals. This is pure fun the perfect closing number as Professor Longhair is celebrated full of vim and energy.
The combination of the songwriting skills across the ages, instrumentation of the melodies are the underlying essence of the blues. Mitch Woods, has proved on Friends Along the Way that without friendship, companionship blues would just be notes and words. It is the interaction with humanity good and bad that makes the blues an emotive force as relevant today as yesterday. Blues is relevant that is why Friends Along The Way.
Mitch Woods – Friends Along The Way – Entertainment One
EIGHTdoodle paws out of TEN …
- Take This Hammer
- CC Rider
- Keep A Dollar In Your Pocket
- Singing The Blues
- Mother In Law Blues
- Cryin For My Baby
- Nasty Boogie Woogie
- Empty Bed Blues
- Blues Mobile
- The Blues
- Saturday Night Boogie
- Blues Give Me A Ride
- Chicago Express
- Never Get Out Of These Blues Alive
- Midnight Hour Blues
- In The Night