Travis “Moonchild” Haddix
About 30 miles north of San Diego and perhaps an hour south of Long Beach, CA, is the home of CDS Records and the Benevolent Blues label. Home blues artists like “Moonchild” Haddix, Nellie “Tiger” Travis and Chick Willis (and also home to soul men like Floyd Taylor and Jim Bennett), they offer up some powerful music.
Haddix is a wicked guitar player and great blues singer who is also a member of the Cleveland Blues Hall of Fame. Born in Walnut, Mississippi on November 26, 1938 and having spent his formative years in Milwaukee, he moved to Cleveland in 1959 after a stint in the Army. He has a plentiful discography going back the 1960’s and is a veteran soul blues man. He is backed up here by Ed Lemmers on bass, Brian Hager on rhythm guitar, Gil Zachery on piano, Jeremy Sullivan on drums, Jeff Hager on trumpet, David Ruffin on tenor sax, Norm Tischler on alto sax, and TJ Fortunato on baritone sax. The horn section has a beautiful and greasy west coast blues sound to it, offering up some very good solos. Records live in Cleveland (except for the final two tracks), Haddix and the band put on a driving and exciting show. All songs are originals and were penned by Haddix.
He begins he set with the biographical “They Call Me Moonchild”, a grooving and upbeat soul blues tune. He then breaks into some deep and slow blues on “First Thing Tuesday Morning”. It opens with a down home electric guitar solo that shows us the other side of Haddix’s style and he follows that track with five more hot original blues tunes including one of his “anthems” “If I’m One, You’re One Too”. In “Winners Never Quit” he goes back to his soul side with a nice slow number. The next track is all blues called “Down Home Blues”. He finishes out the live part of the CD and the two studio numbers with a nice blend of blues and funk that features the horn section in full force.
Haddix can deliver some dirty, down home vocals that evoke his time growing up 30 miles south of Memphis. But his vocals can also be soulful, introspective and equally convincing. His guitar work is greasy and he wastes no notes; his phrasing and picking on the guitar is not overstated and offers the listener some mean licks to savor. The CD is a mostly live and completely great offering that lovers of traditional and west Coast blues will savor. Mixing “Moonchild” with a big and bad horn section gives the listener a huge pot of music to gobble up and enjoy. I recommend this one highly!
Reviewed by Steve Jones