They've become somewhat of a staple around the Vancouver area. In fact, the Mud Bay Blues Band have established a Roots and Blues Revue every other Friday night at the historic Waldorf Hotel on East Hastings. It was here that I saw the Mud Bay Blues Band perform about a year ago, filling the stage with their considerable lineup, welcoming special guests and even the odd audience member onstage to wail along with them.
The Mud Bay Blues Band play a diverse, yet homegrown style of blues. They may have been influenced by the Chicago blues masters and by the British blues invaders, the Yardbirds, but there is a distinctly Canadian feel to the brand of blues coming out of Mud Bay.
Lately I have been listening to the 2007 album, Death Taxes and the Mud Bay Blues Band, and the recent 2009 release, Mudified. Both albums feature a rollicking blues style, with lots of nice harmonica licks keeping things tasty. Vocalist Mud Bay Slim (Harold Arnold) may not have the deep booming pipes that you might associate with a bluesman, but his vocals work well with the diverse instrumentation of the rest of the band to bring a cohesive sound. The albums are not dominated by aggressive guitar, as is often the case in a blues recording, but are more of an amalgamation of sounds, a musical democracy that brings in keyboards, slide guitar, mandolin, organ, bass, and of course harmonica, in an uptempo melting pot.
My personal favourite is the track, Dead End Town, tucked in near the back of Mudified. It's a gloriously upbeat number, with a prominent harmonica that loudly proclaims its heartbreak and wears it proudly on its sleeve.
If you are in the mood for the blues, the Mud Bay Blues Band will take you there, with no stops in between.