Review: Earwig Roundup – Travis “Moonchild” Haddix – Scott Ellison

Posted on: Tuesday, Dec 2, 2008

Here’s a quick look at two more fine releases from Chicago’s Earwig label which have been in danger of slipping under the radar.

“Daylight at Midnight”
(Earwig CD 4955)

Travis “Moonchild” Haddix actually recorded  his tenth album for his own label WannSonn in a one-day session late last year but it has now been picked up, remastered and repackaged by the good folks at Earwig.
Haddix is a tad diffcult to categorise definitively (I know, why should we want to?) as he glides effortlessly around blues, soul and R&B. What is easy to spot, though, is his admiration for BB King, a fact reflected in his uncluttered guitar style, whether crisp soloing over the horn-filled “Blue Leftovers” or adding an inspired personal touch to the Stax-style funk of “You Kind of Fool.”

Haddix has a distinct fat baritone vocal which he uses to good effect on this self-produced collection of purely original songs. And his subject matter does set him apart from the norm.  His woman may well have done him wrong but we’ll never know from these lyrics!

The expressive slow blues “Backward Baby” has more than a touch of sly humour, “Way Back in the Country” is an amusing take on the birds and the bees while the title track sees him crafting a song around his shock at seeing the midnight sun after playing a club gig in Finland (“strange things are happening.. seem like the sun don’t ever go down.”)

“Ice Storm”
(Earwig CD 4956)

Next it’s Tulsa time and a real guitar tour de force from Scott Ellison with Ice Storm, a collection taken from several sessions, some dating back to 1997. All are a showcase for his well-honed guitar work and feature an impressive array of often horn-fuelled styles. Thirty years on the road, including quite a few with Clarence Gatemouth Brown, have seen him develop his style to the fluency revealed here.

Opener “Steamin'”  is well-named with Ellison’s abrasive rock-blues strutting over walking bass, only to be followed by the soft funk of “Big Blue Car” featuring  a well-crafted solo in which lengthy sustained notes are bent round a pleasingly soulful groove.

The big guns of the ’70s Tulsa scene would surely have fired Ellison’s imagination with Clapton and Freddie King’s bands based there and Shelter Records and JJ Cale calling it home.  This all comes together on one of the newer cuts “Who Will Be The Fool,” a track with insistent but controlled pedal power a feature throughout and which is immediately followed by the deep-well production of “Why’d Ya Lie To Me.”

The instrumental title track, on the other hand, is totally different, a tight yet swaggering jump-blues with Ellison’s guitar underpinned by rich horns led by Curt Limburger’s wonderful tenor sax.

Both CDs are available for UK shipping from the Earwig Music Company online store.


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