Missed Train Blues
Joe Filisko & Eric Noden
Not everyone I meet in my blues travels is an acoustic music fan. Festivals sometimes tuck away the acoustic acts earlier in the day, often off the main stages. I find this a bit wrong. The blues began acoustically, both on the plantations and in early recordings. The desire to make louder music and adding rock-like tempos keep the fans loving the blues, but it is in the roots that we must go back and remember where this music began.
Not only do Eric Noden and Joe Filisko write new and play acoustically, they make pre-WWII roots music that sounds fresh and vibrant. Each of these gentleman from the Chicago area have written a half dozen songs (Joe sharing authorship with his wife Michelle on one of them) and they bring them to life together on this CD.
For any of you new to Eric and Joe, Eric Noden is a superb guitar player and Joe Filisko is one of the most profound and proficient harmonica players I have ever heard. I have listened to these guys for many years, both together and individually. As solo artists they are excellent, but the synergy of the two together is much more than the sum of two musicians added together.
One of my favorite tracks is the opener, “Bird Song.” Noden writes and sings of what he’d do if he were an eagle, owl, rooster and other sorts of birds. The guitar and harp blend into a whirl and swirl of country blues, with Filisko chugging, blowing and bending while Noden sings and picks. “If You Call Out” is a Filisko tune sung in duet that takes us to church and the harp replaces the organ in the church mu-sic. Half way through Noden come in on the kazoo and one just wants to jump up and dance for the Lord! He continues in a duet with Joe on vocals and he on Kazoo. “Fat Cats and Thin Dogs” is a commentary on Wall Street moguls looking down on broken men rooting through garbage cans while thin dogs bark. Noden has penned a topi-cal song done in the style of many years ago that one can appreciate in today’s situation. And the Filikso harp solos just ring out spectacularly. The title track is a cool Noden number, and what would a period album like this be without a great train song? It is followed by “The Grind,” a driving and nicely done Filisko piece, and his “Ballad of Peg Leg” is a semi-humorous musical story. Space precludes commenting on each song, but I must note the closing instrumental “Roo Chase (Jumpin’ Joey)” is a great ride!
Whether you are new to Joe and Eric or veterans of their music, this is a great follow on to IC Special, their last CD (which was equally fantastic). This is a super example of modern acoustic blues, taking the pre-war genre of music and updating it with modern themes. Highly recommended!
Reviewed by Steve Jones