Mary Flower

Bywater Dance

Yellow Dog Records YDR 1242

Mary Flower, guitar, lap-steel guitar, and vocals; Henry Butler, piano; Jon Cleary, piano and Hammond B-3 organ; Amasa Miller, piano and accordion; Woody Mann, second guitar; Dr. Michael White, clarinet; Tim Laughlin, clarinet; Charlie Miller, trumpet; Craig Klein, trombone; Kirk Joseph, sousaphone; Matt Perrine, sousaphone and string bass; Kerry Lewis, string bass; Kevin O'Day, snare drum; and Chaz Leary, washboard

For her sixth CD, Mary Flower got together a group of New Orleans musicians for this recording done in the historic Bywater District of that city. Flower is a Portland-based musician who has garnered fame on the international tour circuit and a reputation for her expertise in the Piedmont style of fingerpicking guitar.

The first cut, "Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me," introduces us to the clear tone of Flower's vocals on this ragtime-influenced tune interspersed with a saucy horn interlude. "Raise the Devil" is an original instrumental with interesting changes in tempo that display the inventiveness of Flower's fingerpicking guitar style as Jon Cleary lends a lavish piano background.

"New Orleans Hop Scop Blues" is a delightful mixture of the traditional style and takes it to another level with Flower's graceful singing as the horn section lends a lush background. "Last Kind Word Blues" takes a slow poignant pace with Flower soulfully negotiating the melody.

"Terminal Rag" is a moody instrumental rag excursion featuring White's solemn clarinet and Flower's impeccable acoustic guitar. On "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" Flower wrings out every emotion on vocals and guitar in this somber rendering.

"Papa's on the Housetop" features the tinkling piano styling of Henry Butler with playful lyrics zestily delivered by Flower in this light-hearted undertaking. "Nobody's Fault but Mine" features the unmistakable Henry Butler's percussive piano. The closer, "Good News Waltz" displays Flower's fluid guitar style tastefully accented by Amasa Miller on accordion.

This CD of fourteen cuts (five originals) is smashing! Flowers is a formidable guitarist who shows restraint with an intrinsic approach to the music. This is a classy composite that meshes Piedmont with New Orleans. Most highly recommended!

By Dorothy L. Hill