Review: Mitch Kashmar – 100 Miles To Go

Posted on: Monday, Sep 6, 2010

MITCH KASHMAR & THE PONTIAX
“100 Miles To Go”
(Delta Groove Music – DGPCD140)

Now established as one of the leading blues harmonica players around, Mitch Kashmar is also a fine, witty writer and has shared stages with some of the genres biggest names. In the 80s he was frontman with The Pontiax, who were based in Santa Barbara, California and honed their chops in local bars and other venues – what we have here is a reissue of their long out of print vinyl album, together with a couple of bonus tracks recorded this year with a reunited band.

Considering it is over 20 years old “100 Miles To Go” holds up very well, with the added treat of Kashmar and his buddy, the late, great William Clarke guesting on the storming instrumental “Horn Of Plenty”. The Pontiax line-up is completed with Bill Flores (guitar and tenor sax), Jon Lawton (guitar, original album only), Jack Kennedy (bass) and Tom Lackner (drums), with Jim Calire guesting on four tracks (keyboards and sax).

The Pontiax drew on a wide range of styles from West Coast jump and swing, Chicago blues, boogie woogie, and more, and indeed, that mix is well in evidence on “100 Miles To Go”, which kicks off with the brooding “Night Creeper”, led by a salvo from Kashmar’s high register harmonica and is a rousing opener. “My Kinda Woman” rides on a funky groove, with some lovely Leslie-effect guitar work and fine, strong vocal from Kashmar; with the title cut, “100 Miles To Go” having a cool, West Coast swing feel – almost with a jazzy edge, very classy indeed!

“Lip Service” is a fast shuffle harmonica instrumental with Mitch Kashmar demonstrating his superb playing, leading into the excellent Deadric Malone song, “Gonna Find Someone New”, another swing tune, driven by the guest saxophone of Jim Calire, and also band member Bill Flores. Next up is the afore-mentioned “Horn Of Plenty”, and what a great track as Mitch Kashmar and William Clarke let rip and sound as if they are having a ball!

Elsewhere from the original tracks, “Long As I Have You” is a soul-flavoured take on the Willie Dixon classic, with another quality vocal from Kashmar; “Walkin’ Downtown” sees some sparkling chromatic harmonica work, and “Let It All Fall Dead” has a soulful edge – again beautifully played from the band and sung by Kashmar.

When Delta Groove decided to reissue the album label boss, Randy Chortkoff, was eager to add a couple of bonus tracks. Mitch Kashmar couldn’t find much he liked to add on, so he got the band back into the studio this year to record the two tracks here – “When You Do Me Like That (I Wanna Do You Like This)”, with it’s swampy New Orleans feel, and tough harmonica, and the topical “Petroleum Blues” – an ode to the recent disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, again with a rumba feel and some hard-hitting lyrics.

This as previously mentioned really holds up well for over 20 years old, and is a perfect companion piece to Mitch Kashmar’s three other cds on Delta Groove – it’s great to see such a fine player and writer having success after paying his dues for many, many years on the road.

GRAHAME RHODES
www.deltagroovemusic.com



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Ken

September 7th, 2010 at 18:38
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Just listened to this on the way home from the office – what lovely guitar on the title track. Great stuff!