R.J. Mischo

West Wind Blowin: Mountain Top Productions, Vol. 3 [Mountain Top]

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This was Mischo's first album after his move from Minneapolis to San Francisco, and his fifth overall. It's a nice mix of seven originals and eight covers, with two instrumentals. Mischo is one heck of a harp player, a good singer, and an especially proficient songwriter. Obviously the other musicians on the CD agree or you wouldn't see their names on the bill. They include first-call guitarists Rusty Zinn and Steve Freund (who relocated to California in 1994 after playing almost 20 years with several Chicago masters). Although not a live recording, West Wind Blowin' has that sound. When you're listening to it, you feel like you've just walked out of a jumpin' club (sans crowd noise). The only exceptions to this are "R. J. Getup! Milk That Cow!," with just Mischo on harp and spoken word and Randy Bermudes on stand-up bass; and the closer, "South City Fog," a slow, moody instrumental showcasing Mischo's forlorn-sounding, chromatic harp playing. The best tracks are the straight up Chicago originals "What I Got to Have," the swingin' Sonny Boy Williamson tribute "Goat Whiskers," and Junior Wells' "It's My Life Baby." Not only a strong effort by Mischo, West Wind Blowin' is one of Zinn's best performances. Be sure to check out his Sammy Lawhorn vibrato on "Jelly Sellin' Woman."

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