Mark Germino joins the Midnight Carnival

Mark Germino joins the Midnight Carnival

Mark Germino joins the Midnight Carnival a great listen for all and an absolute winner for country lovers across fourteen tracks.

When an artist is defined as a folk-rock country singer (and a poet), one is never sure quite what might emerge from the speakers…Mark Germino is labelled that way and, although his output is irregular (five albums between 1986 and 2006) his songwriting certainly made an impact; Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Emmylou Harris, Vince Gill and Kenny Chesney are amongst those who have recorded his songs.

He has an all-new, generous fourteen song album called Midnight Carnival on release and is backed by a solid, professional and quality band with a mix of country and ‘Americana’ and some folk leanings too. I won’t go through every song of the fourteen but suggest some highlights that you may want to pursue and peruse.

Travelling Man (Season 1 Episode 10) opens the affair and, although I cannot find any reference to a TV show (other than a 1984 UK series from Granada about an innocent ex-con travelling the canals of England…that’s one that passed me by…slowly!), opens with a catchy accordion intro and develops into catchy verses, catchy choruses, great lyrics and some superb playing from all involved.

Ettress Rolls On has similar ingredients but with an added and rather lovely acoustic guitar section. Peace Train (John Luther Jones) will appeal to all those of a certain age who remember the TV series Casey Jones (all together now: “Casey Jones, steamin’ and a rollin’”), for it is Casey’s full name that appears in parentheses…it’s nothing to do with the Grateful Dead or Cat Stevens song of that name but is an object lesson in writing lyrical lyrics and layering them over a classic, original country setting.

Blessed Are The Ones out Dylan’s Dylan both vocally and lyrically as we’re told that God’s favourite painter is Rembrandt and Shakespeare his favourite playwright, although how Mark knows this remains unclear…a languid backing with subtle drums and pleasant fiddle.

My Oh My is my favourite because of the exquisite acoustic guitar playing on the intro and the central solo. The Greatest Song Ever Written may conflict with Tenacious D’s claim on their song ‘Tribute’…this is a semi-autobiographical spoken/sung poem set in Nashville; it also name-checks my homeland “North East coast of Great Britain”…unless it is only because ‘written’ rhymes with ‘Britain’. Whatever, this is a charming story, with such poetic lyrics that is great to listen to.

Carolina In The Morning features Poco’s Rusty Young on pedal steel guitar and with the rolling beat behind the melodies, it is pure country perfection. Muddy Spoon In A Sugar Bowl deviates from the atypical country template…it is (in my strange mind at least) prog country: the instrumentation behind the main melodies is so complex and layered that it’s the best way to describe it.

The album closes with Until The Fatman Swings: a clever title with fiddle and guitar and, to a Brit who has no knowledge of baseball, it is somewhat mystifying but amusing nonetheless.

As I rarely listen to country music, I was surprised and pleased by the immediacy and likeability of this entire album: it has charm, humour and such skilful playing that, while I may not play it often, it is still a very welcome addition to my ‘off piste’ listening playlists.

Bluesdoodles rating: 3 Doodle Paws – a great listen for all and an absolute winner for country lovers.

Mark Germino joins the Midnight Carnival

Tracklisting:
Travelling Man (Season 1 Episode 10)
Ettress Rolls On
Lightning Don’t Always Strike The Tallest Tree
Peace Train (John Luther Jones)
Blessed Are The Ones
My Oh My
Tennessee Trash Disclosure
Koraleah
The Greatest Song Ever Written
Carolina In The Morning
Finest American Waltz
Author Of My Journey
Muddy Spoon In A Sugar Bowl
Until The Fatman Swings

Midnight Carnival is out on August 6th on Red Parlor Records.

Musicians:
Tom Comet: bass
Rick Lonow: drums
Kenny Vaughan: guitar
Michael Webb: accordion, piano, mandolin & organ

(iTunes took me one of my favourite albums of all time…in 1996 a tribute album to The Shadows was released called Twang! It featured Ritchie Blackmore, Brian May and Tony Iommi amongst others with their takes on the great Shadows instrumentals. Some were straight readings, some were stretched a bit, but all were brilliant and Mark Knopfler’s version of Atlantis was the song iTunes played.)

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