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Friday August 22, 2014
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Mike Boyd

 

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But it works. The blues and country originals he writes are enhanced by his "I'm just all worn out" performance style. This is especially evident on his 2000 self-produced solo CD The Mean Old Stoner Blues and Other Tales. Boyd now performs live with his band, the Genesee Ramblers, adding drums, upright bass, and pedal steel guitar to his sound. But the CD is just Boyd's throaty whisper, soft guitar, and lines like "It always gets worse before it gets ugly" and "If you got faith and a good oven, you can always keep the Lord a-simmerin'."

Boyd's mumbled singing, especially onstage, is a bit of a shame, since his original lyrics are worth hearing. I enjoyed picking up some of the wittier lines, like "We're all asleep at the wheel of fortune." One talky folk song with a fast-strumming guitar ends with "Love, I love you, I need you, but this is the biggest televised game of the year."

The title track on the CD, a backwoods blues original, epitomizes Boyd's style; it sounds smoky, wet, and dark, maybe even a little creepy. Clearly inspired by the most traditional representatives of his chosen genres, his melodies borrow liberally from refrains like the chorus of "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?" or Robert Johnson tunes. When he switches to folk, the influence of the early Bob Dylan is obvious, but Boyd's talent and passion raise him above a mere imitator. His work feels like a successful effort to carry on valuable traditions.

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