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- Reviews of Solo -


July 2003 - Frank-John Hadley

   MacKenzie shows so much empathy for country blues doing his tradition-bound songs and his adaptations of Muddy Waters’ “Too Young To Know” and Sleepy John Estes’ “Little Laura” that you have to wonder why this singer/guitarist/dobro player isn’t better known. Maybe it’s because the Nashville picker puts perfecting his art before self-promotion.

Guitar One

July 2003 - Dave Rubin

  The Nashville cat plays solo acoustic country blues like nobody’s business on this excellent set of mostly original tunes. His wood, steel, and 6- and 12-string guitars display maximum warmth and resonance. MacKenzie struts his stuff like a modern-day Robert Johnson on “Two Drags”.

Blues on Stage

June 2003 - Gordon Baxter - www.mnblues.com

  This year marks the tenth anniversary of Hey Baby! Records, the company started by bluesman Dave MacKenzie. All three of his previous albums were very well received on both sides of the pond. MacKenzie's latest effort, "Solo," where he concentrates on playing acoustic guitar appears destined to follow suit.
  The opener, "That Rainy Day's Comin'," which was inspired by financial advice from Henry Townsend, offers a good snapshot of MacKenzie's talents. He is an adept slide guitarist, with vocals that always fit the song just about right. Like all the tunes here, it was recorded live in the studio. Those listening out for MacKenzie's wry sense of humor have to wait until the third track, "Two Girlfriends", which also features some fine fingerpicking on a song based on a Blind Willie McTell theme.
  All the tunes are MacKenzie originals, with two exceptions. The first is Sleepy John Estes' "Little Laura", where MacKenzie uses slide guitar to fine effect. The only other cover is also dominated by slide guitar, when MacKenzie delivers an impassioned slice of delta blues with Muddy Waters' "Too Young To Know"
  There is plenty of fingerpicking guitar on display too, and when it is combined with MacKenzie's humorous lyrics it is certain to raise a smile on anybody's face. Classic examples of this are "Big Ol' Girls" "If Jesus Comes Back" and "Rats In My Bedroom" The image of roaches racing rats around MacKenzie's home on the latter is one that certainly stays with you!
  MacKenzie's more serious side is best exemplified by "Back In The Day" which tackles the notion that things were better "in our day." MacKenzie points out that people went through hard times, and he, for one, does not want to go back. His guitar playing on this one calls to mind some of Lonnie Johnson's finest work, straying towards jazz territory. He also veers into this area with some nice jazzy chording on "She Ain't No Southern Girl" as he highlights the differences between northern and southern girls.
  After "Jumpin' On Jefferson" where MacKenzie name checks two of Nashville's finest blues artists--Marion James and Johnny Guitar Jones--and "Stumblin' Home" MacKenzie rounds off in style with "A Better Way" Once more the tune is dominated by slide, this time shifting more into Gospel territory. Blind Willie Johnson shines through on a rousing song that ensures that you do not forget "Solo" in a hurry.
  "Solo" is another mighty fine album from Dave MacKenzie. Anyone who likes acoustic blues will find plenty here to enjoy. The album works as background music, and equally rewards those who like to analyze the music and/or the lyrics. "Solo" will certainly be in this reviewer's top 10 albums for 2003. Highly recommended.














Reviews of Old, New, Borrowed & Blue

Living Blues

March/April, 2000

  Whether covering the songs of his blues heros (Arthur Crudup, Muddy Waters, Furry Lewis, Sylvester Weaver) or singing one of his lyrically fascinating originals (try Preachin' to the Choir or Girlfriend Blues' tale of sapphic betrayal),singer/songerwriter/ acoustic guitarist Dave MacKenzie plays and sings with an easy and unassuming style that belies his mastery of pre-war blues guitar, both slide and picked. MacKenzie's skill with the Robert Johnson cannon (Me and the Devil) is far better than most, and Jet Lag Johnson (a darkly hillarious musician's lament many will be familiar with) is just one of this disc's vignettes portraying life on the cusp of the new millennnium. If you like Roy Book Binder Old, New, Borrowed & Blue will be in your CD player a lot.

Blues Access

Spring, 2000

  Dave Mackenzie is extremely comfortable with the old ways. His sterling Old, New, Borrowed & Blue spotlights just 6 strings and one voice, recorded live at The Nest, Nashville, TN. Though he does a Furry Lewis cover and a few more oldies, the meat of this release is MacKenzies easy-rolling originals, sung in a weary voice a la J.J. Cale and loaded with poor man's poetry. MacKenzie's sharp wit is sometimes turned on himself. After he cuffs a few notes on one cut, he says, "This is the kind of guitar playing keeps Chet Atkins up at night...laughing like crazy." But if you ain't Atkins you're liable to find MacKenzie a spirited player and singer who mesmerizes throughout this truely fine set.

Blues Revue

April, 2000

Dave MacKenzie chops a lot of sound out of an old acoustic, and Old, New, Borrowed & Blue (Black & Tan Records) rings with pure six-string joy. The rhythm section bookmarks MacKenzie's nimble chords and licks without smothering them; his singing leaps above the mix. Best Cut: the medley of Steel Guitar Rag and I'm So Glad.






Reviews of All New Slender Man Blues

Blues Gazette


  This CD like Dave's previous release "Rats In My Kitchen", carries the following warning on the CD case: PURIST WARNING: This album contains some songs which are not blues, but don't let this put you off, because although Dave plays a variety of Southern roots music, it will all have appeal to most blues lovers and especially those whose particular preferences tend to the acoustic based styles of the genre. The first thing you notice about Dave is that he is a superb guitarist, whether on acoustic, electric or slide, and mandolin (all of which are featured on this CD), with a penchant for story telling in his often wry and humorous lyrics, which at times are so entertaining you either don't notice or forget that a particular song is not a straight blues. The first track "Start the Party" does exactly that, a real swinger that features elements of jazz and Western Swing with Dave's superlative guitar picking propelled by the excellent rhythm section of Oscar R. Veterano (guitar), John Vogt (bass) and Paul Griffith (drums), and doesn't ease up until the final track "Sure 'Nuff Shame" (a shame that it finishes so quickly), a song that draws its influences from a wide eclectic base but is highlighted by some great guitar picking, Blind Boy Fuller style. In between we are treated to some stunning slide and mandolin on "Slender Man Blues", a song that extols the virtues of the tall, scrawny lover when it says "If you want to find the sweetest meat, you got to get right down to the bone", which mixes Muddy and Yank Rachell replete with Hammie Nixon style harp (another of Dave's multi-talented facets), the swinging N'awlins styled "Honeymoon Mambo" with more of that haunting slide and Longhair styled piano from the Rev Billy C. Wirtz, the late night feel of "Blues Give A Lesson" with Dave's understated guitar meshing flawlessly with Wirtz's mellow piano and the Yank Rachell styled "What She Like To Do" where Dave bemoans the fact that "what she likes to do all night, takes me all night to do". If you take heed of the purist warning and give this CD a miss, you'll be missing out on a real treat from an artist who is a songster in the old tradition, based in the blues but primarily an entertainer, able and willing to play whatever the situation and audience demands.

Mick Rainsford

All New Slender Man Blues

  This creator and performer of boogie\rag has his etiquette: "Purist warning: this album contains some songs which are not blues." One understands this attitude, which treats friends to guitars (acoustic and electric), slide, mandolin, backed up by bass, drums and piano if need be, is far from being sad or congealed in the fillets of grilles. As a signer and instrumentalist, Dave is strongly honest in a domain already saturated by affectation.
  I contacted Hey Baby Records for Dave MacKenzie (above). But the most beautiful discovery is his companion, Adie Gray, and her voice. Don't believe that modest, down home "back porch" sleeve. On a repertoire in large part of Dave and which one would believe comes from an anthology of traditionals, Adie offers a collection of folk grass, with touches of blues and gospel of absolute beauty. Beautiful voice, vibrant harmonies and accompaniment on a biblical level with Wynonna Judd, Albert Lee, John Hartford, David Schnaufer and other less known but good players. Listen to "Mr. Roy", a touching allusion to her childhood, with Roy Acuff "on the radio", that should talk over a kid. A musical family, in every sense of the word, like the real food, the revelation of this chronicle: an album that is again on our turntables and which one doesn't tire of. Bravo...

Le CRI (France)

" . . . it all flies by so smoothly you can almost miss the fact that he's quite a player, tasty, economical, and very accomplished. . . .well above the blues crowd vying for the hand-speed record. Nice."
- Dirty Linen

" I really like Dave's songs . . . fine additions to the country and party blues repertoire." - Blue Suede News

" An excellent set of acoustic "Southern Roots"music that encompasses blues, gospel, western swing, and string band elements . . . Give this CD a listen. I'm sure you won't regret it."
- British Blues Connection

" Want to hear some great, new, original blues tunes? This guy is destined for bigger things." - Texas Blues Magazine

" . . . a real treat from an artist who is a songster in the old tradition."
- Blues Gazette (Belgium)

Reviews of Rats in my Bedroom

"Boy is this music refreshing! Take my word for it - if you like country blues with a sense of humor, you'll love this." - Blue Suede News

"Hard to pick a fave - his 11 originals are so consistently crafted, accessible and credible. . . it's a jukebox hoot."
- Performing Songwriter

"... mellow, soulful slide guitar, clever original songwriting, and an easygoing singing voice. This release is grounded in Southern roots-both black and white-but is hardly a museum piece, as MacKenzie gives freshness to a mixed bag of traditional licks. ." - Acoustic Guitar

"He is an artist of Tom Waits, Randy Newman, and Jimmy Buffet's caliber . . . (the songs) are original jewels created by a knowledgeable craftsman." - IL Blues (Italy)

"All in all, a pleasant listen from a performer I'd very much like to see playing live in Britain." - BluePrint (UK)


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