Audiences like their blues singers to be miserable, so said Janis Joplin, before she went ahead and gave her audiences the blues by administering a reportedly strong batch of heroin into her own veins and promptly passing away. But Blues audiences have never really seen anything like Benjamin Darvill, a.k.a. Son of Dave. Although he’s not from the deep South, he’s actually from Winnipeg in Canada, and has lived in London for the last fifteen years or so, he does have this deep feeling for the blues, and is an ace on the harmonica. But he’s also a master, if not of disco, but weaving some funky-ass (excuse me for using that term then, I’ve absolutely no idea what came over me) disco into the very core of his blues records. And, voila! Disco-Blues comes out. He’s released a handful of albums of, already, but it seems he needs a little bit of help for his forthcoming long-player, Blues at the grand’. So, he’s started a pledge campaign, here where you can make donations towards the cost of making the record. As he himself explains though, it’s going to be one hell of a ride.
On the controls is a big shot producer fried of mine, Jimmy Hogarth. He’s done all his work for free ‘cause I beat him at cards. I’ve gone deep into Karmic debt with my musician friends, who have stepped up and played incredible parts on this record. We got Joey Waronker (Beck, REM) on drums. On bass: Henry Olsen (Screamadelica). On lady vocals: Martina Topley Bird, Jessica Hynes, Josephine Oniyama, Naomi Yhap. On keys: Will Foster (Fratellis). Horns by Martin Slattery and Greg Heath. I’m playing piano, bass, guitar, harmonica of course, and working like a bitch to please you.
Over on the pledge site, you can donate to the project in return for cd’s, vinyl, anything up to (if you’ve a spare £100 knocking around) a harmoinica lesson via skype. But let’s not forget that this is a resourceful character that has his own YouTube channel, where he reviews records, and goes out and records equally odd cover versions (ever thought of a blues version of Dizzee Rascal, no me either). Just to give you an idea of the mindset (and musical ability, let’s not forget) of Son of Dave, he’s released a new single, Hot Summer Nights – with the aforementioned Martina Topley Bird providing some of the vocal accompaniments.
What strikes you first is that it’s not this drawn out, slow blues, but rather an uplifting number, with Son of Dave’s Harmonica roaring away between the chorus’ and his almost spoken verses displaying his quirky sense of humour and keen observations around him. Oddly, by the time the track has breezed through, it’s one blues record that can lift you’re mood, rather than send you into waves of despair.
Son of Dave doesn’t strike you as a man who sits on his porch (if he’s in London, he’s damn lucky if he can afford one) slugging back whisky before hollering his tear-soaked ballads to lost loves and hard lives. But there again, as the jazz flute player Herbie Mann said ‘ You don’t have to live the blues, to play the blues’. And he was damn right.