No Depression & Hearth Music 
It's pretty easy to make me fall in love with your country blues. Just cover Blind Willie Johnson. Don't try and mimic his playing (nobody can), but take his songs, which are all beautiful vignettes of country gospel, and play 'em straight. I guarantee I'll love you forever. NW country blues super-group Johnson, Miller & Dermody nail this out the gate on the first track of their new album, We Heard the Voice of a Porkchop. They take on my favorite Blind Willie Johnson song too: the critically underrated "The Rain Don't Fall On Me". Of course, this has special meaning to me as we slide into another rainy Seattle Christmas. But it's also one of his sweeter and least-covered songs. On the original recording, it's a simple plea, asking for trouble to move along elsewhere. His wife, Willie B. Harris, sings the refrain behind him. I've always loved the recordings he made with her, and it's a shame she gets written about so infrequently. Here, Orville Johnson, John Miller, and Grant Dermody deftly cover the song, bringing the kind of weary resignation to rain and trouble that only a life in Seattle can lend us. The whole album is a great romp by three master players through the back alleys of the country blues. 
-Devon Leger- 

Living Blues

...performed with great confidence and consummate skill. All three men are well known in their own rights both  as performers and teachers, working sympathetically together giving  each other plenty of space in which to express their own individual  personalities.   
The choice of  material is fascinating, including titles from the likes of Charlie  Patton, Memphis Slim, Tampa Red and Rev. Gary Davis, with a number that I  have not heard recorded elsewhere for some while. I was, in particular,  interested to hear Leadbelly’s Stewball where the vocals are led by  Miller with some driving and intricate mandolin from Johnson. The harp  from Dermody is quite superb throughout this set and he has a tone very  much of his own and on Memphis Slim’s   Mother Earth his distinctive  break is one of the highlights of this highly recommended set. 


 I have enjoyed Miller’s guitar playing since I first heard him back in  the late sixties when he recorded for the “legendary” Blue Goose label  owned by the late Nick Perls based in New York City. He is a clean and  accurate player capturing the feel of many of the early players while  adding much of his own personality. On the Son House classic Depot Blues  he is particularly tight creating a perfect foil for the heartfelt  vocals from Dermody. The dobro from Johnson on Sonny Boy Williams’  Springtime Blues sets him apart from many of his contemporary players  while his vocals throughout are natural and impressive. His singing, in  particular, on Rev. Gary Davis’s emotional original I Will Do My Last  Singing is awesome capturing much of Davis’s intense honesty. 
This is not a recreation of historic recording but a very personal and  entertaining interpretation of some carefully selected material all  performed with integrity and skill. This is a heartfelt outing by three  serious and committed musicians performing naturally and without any  pretensions and long may it continue!

-Bob Tilling-  

Blues-To-Do's

Lyin’,  cheatin’, and sneakin’: the blues is rank with falsehoods and  double-dealing. But there’s no deception on this disc. What you hear is  the genuine article, direct from three titans of Northwest acoustic  blues: Orville Johnson, John Miller, and Grant Dermody. Johnson  is well-known for his innovative slide guitar and dobro playing and  unbridled singing. Miller is renowned for his clean, complex  fingerpicking in a variety of genres and styles, and for his guitar  teaching credentials and many instructional tapes and DVDs. Harmonica  player Dermody is less well known, but based on the evidence here and on  his debut solo album last year, “Crossing That River,” he should be  internationally famous.  He has technique and tone to spare, and an easy  intimacy with the subtleties of blues music that’ll make you think he  started blowing harp about when he learned to walk.The three  bluesmen first played together a few years ago when they were on staff  at the Centrum/Port Townsend Blues Workshops and enjoyed it so much that  they kept getting together on occasion, though they maintain separate  careers. Their first CD together is a romp through twelve acoustic blues  classics by Memphis Slim, Charlie Patton, John Lee “Sonny Boy”  Williamson, Leadbelly, Tampa Red, Blind Willie Johnson, Son House, Gary  Davis, and others. Like all classics, these tunes are full of  the kind of mysterious yet somehow vaguely familiar lyrics and melodies  that sound like they were not so much crafted as unearthed in a musty  oak trunk of unknown provenance. They sound centuries old—ideal for the  grand, old-time whoopin’, wailin’, moanin’, and hollerin’ that Johnson,  Miller, and Dermody specialize in. Their arrangements, playing, and  singing are superb throughout.Prime cuts are the old warhorse  “Stewball,” with Johnson and Miller’s wildly syncopated mandolin and  guitar, Miller’s slap-your-knees funny vocal, and Dermody’s luscious  harp solo. “Some of These Days,” associated with Charlie Patton (but  based on a pop tune first recorded by Sophie Tucker in 1911), with  Dermody’s slick harp and vocal and Johnson’s tasty mandolin. The sly,  jazzy title tune, driven by Johnson’s dynamite dobro. (No wonder they  call him a King of Mongrel Folk!) Johnson’s clever vocal on “Polly Put  the Kettle On,” accompanied by Dermody’s tight, rhythmic harp. A  propulsive version of Blind Willie Johnson’s famous “Soul of a Man”  that’s pushed into hyperdrive by combined guitar, mando, and harp.  Miller’s string-snapping guitar work on “Depot Blues.”  Johnson’s moving  vocal and Dermody’s beautiful harp on Gary Davis’s “I Will Do My Last  Singing in This World Somewhere.”In fact, all these songs are keepers. No lie—this is a great acoustic blues CD!

-Mark Hoffman-

Victory Music Review 

When  three of the finest musicians in the Pacific Northwest go into a room,  pull up chairs around a microphone, and let fly, it’s hard not to be  prejudicial about the results.  Of course, Deceiving Blues is terrific:  must have, automatic, get it today, etc.  What makes it SO good, though,  is that local legends Orville Johnson, John Miller, and Grant Dermody  have pushed each other into new places and spaces, drawing out sounds  and abilities for this record that they’ve not achieved before.  Johnson,  already acclaimed as the King of Mongrel Folk and as such a seemingly  endless repository of different old-timey styles, puts on a tour de  force, trying a little something extra and astonishing on each tune.  He  can go from chirpy highs to guttural lows, and weave and bend every  note in between. He’s never doing it just to show off, though: he’s  complimenting his own Dobro, and playing against Miller’s guitar and  Dermody’s supple harmonica.  The well-known Johnson, however, is not the  album’s greatest revelation. That would be Dermody. The  harpist had the area’s album of the year a couple back (Crossing That  River), on which he displayed a sly, tempered light baritone on the  vocal cuts.  This time, his buddies urge him to a menacing growl on  “Soul of a Man” and “Depot Blues” that really works. Meanwhile, the  musicianship is uniformly fantastic.  Miller says that the group was  looking for ways to stretch out, relax, and find something new in a mix  of classics and originals, and they’ve succeeded.  The group lays back  some on the traditionally brisk “Stewball,” but then pushes the laconic  “Polly Put the Kettle On.” This is the sound of genius at work: THAT’S why this is a must-have. -Tom Peterson-    

Sing Out 
Three  veteran musicians...come together on this fine recording to trade lead  vocals on a set of acoustic blues and gospel songs drawn from such  sources as LeadBelly, Memphis Slim, Rev. Gary Davis and several others.  Their low key approach to the blues highlights both the lyrical folk  poetry at the heart of many of the songs as well as the gracefulness of  the melodies.

MR  

JMD mini-calendar

Previous events

Jul5

Kenyon Hall

Kenyon Hall, 7904 35th Avenue SW, Seattle, WA

Acoustic blues ala JMD!!! A rare West Seattle sighting!!

Jan19

Marc Hoffman House Concert

Marc Hoffman House Concert

John, Grant, and Orville bring the country blues magic to an intimate house concert in Duvall WA. Come join them!!!

Feb10

JMD with special guest Rich Del Grosso

Kenyon Hall, 7904 35th Avenue SW, Seattle, WA

JMD play their sweet country blues and welcome blues buddy Rich Del Grosso from Houston TX, known far and wide for his mandolin mastery!!!

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