Nigel Mack – “Back In Style”
Blues Attack Records

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro

When Chicago bluesman Nigel Mack isn’t gigging in clubs around the windy city, he’s most likely off headlining shows somewhere around the United States, Europe or his homeland of Canada, with his killer band – The Blues Attack.

Nigel’s fourth release is titled Back In Style and it contains twelve original tracks. For the project, Nigel – on vocals, harmonica, electric/acoustic/steel guitar, foot stomps and horn arrangements – used no less than eight keyboardists; six drummers; four bassists; and several other instrumentalists; as he assembled an all star cast of Chicago’s finest blues musicians.

Being nearly as famous as Highways 41 and 69, a.k.a. the crossroads, there have been many blues songs about “Highway 69”, with several actually sharing the same title. That said, with Nigel belting the hell out of the vocals and nailing the slide guitar that’s so pivotal to the song, this is indeed a worthy tribute to that well-traveled, oft sung about road. Of course, the rhythm guitar support from JR Wydra, the smokin’ keyboard leads from Brian James and the perfect traveling rhythm from Andrew “Blaze” Thomas and Vic Jackson on the drums and bass, also have a lot to do with that.

“Cold Comfort” tells a tale of a short, yet long enough to become rocky, romance between a singer in a band going to Vegas for a three week stand, and a dancer in a chorus line. It features great guitar work from Nigel, thunderous rhythm from Andrew “Blaze” Thomas and Andre Howard on the drums and bass; and monster piano and organ leads on what I am told is the last song the late and great Marty Sammon would ever play on. R.I.P Marty!

Contrary to its title, “Graveyard Gate” is actually a love song. It’s a story about the loneliness a man and woman struggle with from their time apart. Their concern is reuniting before ultimately heading to the graveyard gate. It’s a wind driven smoker with Nigel blowing the hell out of the harmonica; Lise Gilly and Victor Garcia also blowing the hell out of the sax and trumpet; and on its only appearance, as it is getting closed by the blowing of the wind – an actual graveyard gate in a cemetery in Bédoin, France, on rusty squeaks and loud slams.

Those of us who have seen his live shows already know this, but for those who haven’t and might be wondering if Nigel Mack is a harmonica player who can also play guitar or a guitar player who can also play harmonica, “Back In Style” – the title track – will clearly answer that question. Excelling on both, his first instrument is the harmonica, and his other first instrument is the guitar. This time, with Malcom Banks on the drums and Derwin Davis on the keyboards joining Andre Howard (who sadly, is also no longer with us) on the bass, the fast and furious rhythm makes this one a sure dance floor filler.

“Blues Enough For You” is an acoustic track that offers a small sample of what you might expect to experience at one of Nigel’s solo shows. It features him blowin’, pickin’, strummin’, and singing the hell out of the song.

As I was listening to this track, I misread the song listing and thought its title was “Jalapeño Peppers”. Then I realized that was the name of the next track, not this one. The interesting part of all this is that this track is titled “Shangri-la Girl”, and it’s hotter than a whole bunch of jalapeño peppers could ever be. It’s a flat out pedal to the metal smoker with everyone in jam mode. Lise Gilly and Neal O’Hara are in a race on the sax and piano that no one is losing; Andre Howard and Larry Beers are creating a joyful ruckus on the rhythm; and Nigel is totally tearing it up on both of his first instruments.

Other tracks on this fabulous release include: “Travellin’ Heavy”; “Damn You Mr. Bluesman”; “Redemption”; “A Place To Call Home”; “Just One Man”; and of course, “Jalapeño Peppers”.

To find out more about Nigel Mack, and info on booking the band as well, just go to – Remember, when you do this, please tell him his friend, the Blewzzman, sent you.

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