Necessity is the mother of invention. Many of us are currently experiencing this firsthand. The effects of the Corona crisis are hitting everyone very hard, including blues musicians who feel their livelihoods are threatened: When all music clubs were declared a no-go zone and major festivals were canceled, their main source of income dried up overnight. Therefore, they resort to extraordinary measures to make ends meet. This is evidenced by the countless living room concerts that circulate on social media as livestreams. So the hat is passed around virtually – what flows in helps the respective musician get through the lean times.
Although “Lockdown Sessions” was created for similar reasons, this international production also attracts attention regardless of any ulterior motives. Here, more than 30 top-class blues musicians from all over the world join forces against camp fever and overcome the legally prescribed spatial separation through their common blues passion.
The driving force behind the double CD was Roger C. Wade, who for many years has enjoyed a reputation as one of the best harmonica players in Europe. Initially, the German-based Brit exchanged a few song ideas with musician friends in the German scene, not suspecting where his efforts would lead. He quickly enlisted the crème de la crème of the local scene for the project. These include singer and guitarist Kai Strauss, saxophonist Tommy Schneller, multi-instrumentalist Michael van Merwyk, blues veteran Abi Wallenstein and, last but not least, Timo Gross together with Krissy Matthews.
Since the musical encounter did not take place in the studio, but exclusively via digital communication channels, there were no limits to the participation in the “Lockdown Sessions”. Thus, over time, other musicians from Italy, Spain, Belgium, Finland, France and Great Britain joined in. Many of them had never played together or met before. Finally, some American guests were invited to the party and made an important contribution, including Larry Garner, Nathan James, Aki Kumar, Fred Kaplan and Big Daddy Wilson.
If you think a real blues feel can’t possibly come about without being face to face, you’ll be proven wrong when you listen to this record. The 26 tracks on the collection are bursting with playfulness and allow the diverse talents of the Lockdown musicians to shine through. The stylistic range is wide, from refined city blues to boogie-woogie, swing, R&B and country blues. The common denominator is what underlies any good blues recording: The assembled musicians play and sing authentically, dynamically, genuinely.
“Lockdown Sessions” is released for a good cause. The proceeds from the project are intended to help the musicians involved over Corona-related shortages. But rather, the production fulfills a vital function for all of us: it provides an effective remedy, a strong dose of washed-out blues, and thus a glimmer of hope in dark times. After all, the blues have always helped us see the light at the end of the tunnel.
– Vincent Abbate
“Rarities you would never have heard under other circumstances.” (Good Times, August / September 2020)