This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 3/01
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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Do not be concerned. Yes, this is a CD from a Florida performer and yet there is not one mention of a chad, no artists performing here named Chad and no apparent musical connection to the country of Chad. Humor aside, what is most striking about this collection of songs is its genuineness. The sincere connection Steve Blackwell feels to his family, the land, Florida and some of its colorful historical characters, shines brilliantly throughout this release.
He views the time spent with family and friends as life's most meaningful blessings. In "Backyard Revolution #1," he laments the burgeoning dependence on electronic connections and offers an antidote, singing:
"...need to get in our own backyardsThe moments enjoying the simple but incredible gifts of nature are also precious to Blackwell. His "Song for Marjory," celebrating the life of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, radiates with simple irony--"the real magic kingdom never dims, it never fades, it's the river of grass called the Everglades." Blackwell celebrates both the pace and the surroundings of country living in "I Live on a Gravel Road," singing of sharing space with rabbits, snakes and rats, raccoons, dogs, cats, quail, dove and osprey.
need to listen, need to feel
need to hear what's in our own hearts
find for ourselves what's real
mix the words and the music
ancient elements of truth
in a circle 'round a flame..."
He also pays tributes to Seminole chief Osceola and Florida native Gram Parsons. The U.S. was never able to militarily defeat Osceola--his downfall came as a result of unfortunately trusting his army counterpart to keep his word. In "Shooting Star," homage is paid to Parsons' influence on so many bands and performers--The Byrds, The Stones, Emmylou Harris, et. al. Blackwell ends with "... how I wish you could see where music's been."
The moving vocals of Blackwell's daughter, Carrie Blackwell Hussey, are a must-mention. She sings lead vocals on four cuts and has a voice that absolutely sweeps up the listener and takes you along for the ride. Her renditions of "The Line" and "The Measure" would move a statue.
Blackwell's biblical-referenced "Where Devils Parade as Angels of Light" deserves mention simply on title alone.
This is an endearing but not cloying release--one that is both enjoyable and educational.
Blackwell, on vocals, guitar, harmonica and bass, is backed by Carrie Blackwell Hussey on vocals; GaryGee Helinski on recorder and saxophone; Dan Leach on vocals, mandolin, guitar, banjo and bass; and Andy Leach on bass.
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