an e-mail to Bob
Hamm is white, Canadian and unassuming by nature. This has served
to hide a fact known for 25 years by audiences in the small-town
bars and coffeehouses of Western Canada: Ken Hamm is one of
the best living performers of delta and country blues. No guff.
Hamm plays with such virtuosity, drive, passion and affection
that you can almost see the ghosts of Rev. Gary Davis and Mississippi
John Hurt shaking their heads and grinning. "Ken Hamm", says
Canadian guitarist Rick Bockner, "ought to give thumb lessons."
am no expert, but it seems to me that there are more than
a few players around who can, like Hamm, play a credible version
of a Robert Johnson tune. But Hamm makes the form his own.
Though still firmly rooted in accoustic blues, he throws in
half a lifetime of other influences, from tree-planter funk
to jazz-club sixths and ninths. Hamm has packed the blues
off to the fishing towns and logging shows of the BC coast.
The rollicking, gritty songs born of this union give a taste
of west coast working life as unshakable as a fish scale.
Ken's underground "hit", Fishing Grounds stands with
Ian Tyson's Summer Wages and Gordon Lightfoot's Early
Morning Rain on the shortlist of the best Canadian work
until now Hamm's recordings have reflected their low budgets.
But last year he finally went into a pukkah studio (Vancouver's
Blue Wave) with one of Canada's best production teams: producer
Pat Coleman (the jazz guitarist) and engineer Perry Barrett.
Fresh (if that is the word) off the road, Hamm's band feels
comfortable as an old boot. As on stage, the arrangements
centre on the quirky sound of twin slide guitars (the second
played by Canadian dobro maven, Doug Cox). For the recording,
Hamm and Coleman added major-league sidemen like mandolin
player John Reischman and drummer Buff Allen. The result,
Eagle Rock Road, is the album Ken Hamm and his music have
long deserved. Two cuts from Eagle Rock Road appear on Old
Folksinger's Pick, the cassette.
Rock Road (North Track Records)
distributed by Festival Distribution
toll free phone: 1-800-633-8282