In my sordid other life, penning political essays for various venues, as well as in my arts critiques, I've oft lamented that we too often tend to the regrettable device of recognizing real talent the most after it's long gone. Probably the #1 notable example is that of Nick Drake, who's still coming into his own nearly half a century after his demise, far more popular and influential now than when he was alive and mostly ignored by all and sundry. Drake's is also undoubtedly the most tragic story in all of rock and roll. Singer / harmonica player Gary Primich seems to be coming under the same revival treatment, but, fortunately, his life was nowhere near as harrowing as Nick's, though, like Drake, he died of a drug overdose and both had a history of drug use. Drake's OD was clinical, using the anti-depressant amitriptyline, while Primich succumbed to acute heroin intoxication. Drake reached 26, Primich 51. Both were cut down way the hell too soon.
Omar Kent Dykes has made much of Primich's importance in modern harmonica music, as have a few others, and Hank Mowery now comes forward to double up the ante, including five Primich compositions in his latest, two previously unrecorded, in a repertoire that nicely reflects the down and dirty kitchen sink style the deceased blues harpist favored. The initial cut, Mowery's own Spend a Little Time is a rave-stomp followed by Primich's title cut, a slow almost Appalachian number with a surprising degree of Buddy Holly alongside the distance between delta and Chicago, echoing Butterfield and Bloomfield. Both cuts make evident Mowery's prowess on the harp, and he's recruited Gary's old bassist, Patrick Recob, to shore things up ambiently.
The connection began when Mowery ran a blues club in Grand Rapids, Michigan, met Primich in '95, and the two hit it off, Gary finding himself booked any time he cared to pass through. But Mowery's quick to point out that Account to Me is not really a tribute disc, more a continuation of Primich's work by way of working closely through his family and friends. Tricky Game starts out ironically bawdy before it becomes an existential lament on the fact that 'love is a very tricky game' (and, man, ain't that the goddamned truth!), so it's a little wry when the middle eight resumes the bawdy-house vibe with a honky-tonk piano. Mowery's sad harmonica, though, reinvests the blues, re-establishing the balance. The closing That Ain't no Way to Get Along resurrects Rev. Robert Wilkins' heavy duty folky blues, Mowery's vocals sounding Bromberg-esque and workaday genuine, a quality very much informing the entire release and everything Primich ever did.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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