1861 - Reviews



1861 - Moreland & Arbuckle

"Aaron Moreland (guitars) and Dustin Arbuckle (vocals, harmonica) remix the Southern-juke-joint strains of R. L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough and Frank Frost. Whether it's received repertoire like See My Jumper Hangin' Out On The Line or repaint-jobs like Fishin' Hole, the ingredients are familiar enough, but the Kansas duo produce an individual and tangy blend."

- Tony Russell
August, 2008 


"Best known for college basketball, dead prairie dogs on the highway, and the American prog-rock band of the same name, the state of Kansas is not what you'd think of when considering the blues. If Moreland & Arbuckle have their say, blues music fans may look upon the state more favorably. Finalists in the 2005 International Blues Competition, Moreland & Arbuckle Ė the trio of guitarist Aaron 'Chainsaw' Moreland, vocalist/harpist Dustin Arbuckle, and drummer Brad Horner, with various friends as guests Ė put the edge back in blues-rock with their big league debut album, 1861.

"Following up on the promise shown by two independently-released albums, the Kansas-bred bluesmen have pieced together an impressive gumbo of Delta-styled country blues, heavily seasoned with rockin' guitar and a soupcon of country twang.
Gonna Send You Back To Georgia is a soulful jumper that wouldn't sound out of place roaring out of the windows of any back roads Delta juke-joint, while The Legend mixes a driving roadhouse rhythm with a C&W bite and slash fretwork. The Chicago blues-styled Please, Please Mammy features Arbuckle's inspired harp playing and rich vocals, Wrong I Do is a sparse country-blues with passionate vocals and deep blue slide guitar.

"The band's R.L. Burnside cover,
See My Jumper Hangin' Out On The Line, sounds like Saturday night at Kimbrough's in the Mississippi Hill Country, swaggering harp dancing atop the band's unrelenting rhythm as Moreland's fiery guitar play lights the way from the stage. The high point of 1861 (the year that Kansas joined the union) may well be the explosive six-minute Wiser Jam, which showcases the band's chemistry and incredible instrumental skills. Keep your ears open, blues fans, 'cause you're going to hear a lot more from Moreland & Arbuckle.

"Standout Tracks:
Gonna Send Ya Back To George, Wiser Jam."

- Rev. Keith A. Gordon
Blurt Magazine
August, 2008 


"There's contemporary blues, and then there's just blues. Maybe in the late 1960s, Moreland & Arbuckle would have been considered 'contemporary blues,' contending with Savoy Brown and Johnny Winter for their share of a young electric blues audience. But in 2008, they're 'just blues.' And that's definitely a good thing. No synthesizers, no importing of exotic beats, not even one single attempt to cater to an audience outside of the blues. This is the real deal - raw, unadulterated, electric blues - guitar, harmonica, and some drums to add some backbeat. Or in some cases, as on the obligatory woman-done-me-wrong song Tell Me Why, just an acoustic parlor guitar and some vocals for an intimate, stripped down Delta feel. Guitarist Aaron Moreland and vocalist/harmonicat Dustin Arbuckle stick to the basics here, and they do it so well, with such confidence and power, that one has to consider this record a blessing to the soul of modern music. 1861 reminds us once again that less sometimes truly is more."

-Michael Fortes
Eat Sleep Drink Music
June, 2008 


"When you put this Moreland and Arbuckle CD on, get ready to have the world stop to ask, "whoís that?" In a world of musical perfection, Moreland and Arbuckleís raw distorted tones are more than refreshing. Unshaven and at times coarse, Aaron Morelandís dense and primitive guitar grooves combined with Dustin Arbuckleís raspy vocals and edgy harmonica fire up their earthy, rural blues. Born and bred in the Kansas heartland, Moreland and Arbuckle burst on the scene with a stunning performance at the Blues Foundationís 2005 International Blues Competition in Memphis. That exposure opened the doors for the duo to broadcast its earthy, primal music around the world. This new record, titled 1861 for the year that Kansas became a state, deepens the groove this pair seeks to perfect.

"Amid nine originals, the Moreland and Arbuckle honor their blues roots by covering their mentors. The band jumps on the interstate with a full throttle cover of Hound Dog Taylorís rollicking
Send You Back To Georgia. As Arbuckle blows distorted harmonica and Brad Horner pounds rhythms, Morelandís shivery slide races up and down the fret board. Think old Maxwell Street meets new Beale. R.L. Burnsideís dense See My Jumper On The Line comes with the same edge youíd hear in Junior Kimbroughís joint. That assertive, head bobbiní groove continues on Diamond Ring, where M&A add Chris Wiserís B-3 to the musical moment of truth. Hornerís drum work on Never Far Behind sets a modern groove todayís jam fans bob to. At the same time, Morelandís high wired slide pushes this workout. Pittsburgh In The Morning, Philadelphia At Night offers another look at how M&A finding musical pressure within their roots format. Lyrically, itís got all the deep blues associations. The pair turns acoustic front porch on the moody Tell Me Why. As Moreland works the guitar groove, Arbuckle shows off his country harmonica. Later on the CD, Moreland workís a beautifully wistful slide groove on Wrong I Do. Moreland ends the disc with Wiser Jam, a six plus minute, slide guitar B-3 exploration named for their Keyboard player. This is very reminiscent of the psychedelic improvisations once heard on late night FM radio in the Sixties. I saw M&A rock the Rum Boogie Café on Beale Street last February. What I witnessed was how committed these young musicians are to connecting their music to their audiences. This is a pair that roots music enthusiasts should check out."

-Art Tipaldi
Metronome Magazine, Boston
May, 2008 


"Rare as hen's teeth are young, modern blues musicians that can assuredly conjure the primal country blues without coming across as mere jacklegs. This Kansas born and raised duo (1861 is the year that Kansas joined the Union), with their visceral blend of Mississippi Hill Country, Delta, folk and rural blues, not only embrace the music's roots. They also perform with energy and atmosphereic derring-do that is as heartfelt and sincere as it is raw and stripped-down.

"Emporia born string-bender Aaron 'Chainsaw' Moreland, whose instruments include a fretless, four-string 'cigar-box' guitar, a National steel resonator model and a vintage parlor guitar, is complemented unerringly by longtime buddy, co-songwriter and Wichita-born Dustin Arbuckle's forebodingly raspy vocals an idiomatic country blues harmonica work - with both spurred on by dynamite drummer Brad Horner throughout. The inimitable 'gas tank bass' player Jeffrey Eaton joins the trio on the western-tinged combustible
The Legend while Chris Wiser adds hair-raising Hammon B3 organ emphasis to both the ominously droning Diamond Ring and his co-authored, lengthy closing instrumental workout titled Wiser Jam. A moody, deep-veined classic.

"In addition to six more in-the-groove band originals, the pair's choice of cover material is brilliant. A windows-rattling slide guitar-driven sendup of Hound Dog Taylor's signature
Gonna Send You Back to Georgia, leads things off. It flamboyantly sits alongside a drums-pounding, hypnotic take on R.L. Burnside's primitive edgy See My Jumper Hangin' on the Line and a steamy impassioned revival of Ryan Taylor's soulful suicide blues Pittsburgh in the Morning, Philadelphia at Night.

"Further Moreland/Arbuckle composed favorites encompass the hard romping, slide-infused slice of Midwest philosophy
Never far Behind, the chilling commentary Teasin' Doney (with Moreland's acoustic finger-picking rhythms recalling Reverend Robert Wilkins), the easy rocking Please Please Mammy (where they resonantly channel another of their heroes, Jimmy Reed) and Tell Me Why, where they do the same for Mississippi Fred McDowell. As fine a major label debut as both the Wheelchair Man and I have heard in quite a while. Contact Toronto, Canada's enterprising NorthernBlues concern at northernblues.com for more info."

-Gary von Tersch
Big City Blues
April-May, 2008 


"Where blues can take many different forms, Moreland & Arbuckle decided to take all of them. Heavy distortion stolen from Delta blues, vocal inflections from country-blue influences, and structure from the rural blues origins. While combining genres is tricky, Moreland & Arbuckle make it work in a way that not only makes sense, but also seems far too logical to not have been readily exploited before now.

"The pieces fit together like your family 300 piece jig-saw puzzle, and sounds much better than most of the pictures usually look. Singer Dustin Arbuckle's voice is certainly a little country, maybe even some hints of pop melody thrown in, and works well in the context. Moreland, in charge of the guitar playing, is superb at solid song structure, and doesn't really lack in any discernible field. This is certain to catch the attention of any avid blues listener."

-The John Shelton Ivany Top Twenty-One
April, 2008 


"Does anyone still claim that a white man can't sing the blues? I don't think so! Moreland & Arbuckle show the lie to that old saw. From the first notes of Aaron Moreland's bottleneck resonator, and Dustin Arbuckle's overblown harp, to the rough and ready rhythm of Brad Horner's drums on the classic Hound Dog Taylor tune Gonna Send You Back To Georgia they show their stuff. This one rocks like a melon-farmer!

"The album is called
1861 in tribute to the year their home state of Kansas became a state.

"Arbuckle and Moreland wrote all the songs save for the Hound Dog cover, an R.L. Burnside tune and one by Ryan Taylor. Oh, and the final
Wiser Jam which takes the band in directions not hinted at in the blues tunes. Oh, sure it's full of slide guitar and harp over a groove, but it echoes the funk of Little Feat more than a bluesy workout. Not that that's a bad thing!

"As on Samuel James' CD there are influences from a variety of blues sources, and like their labelmate, these fellows prove themselves to be masters of incorporating all that they've heard into their own sound. Dustin Arbuckle's voice is every bit as authentic as his harp playing, and his partner's guitar stylings.

"The blues continues to grow with its roots deep in the past, but branching out to draw influences from rock, jazz, and pretty much everything that's happened since it came boogieing proudly out of the Delta. Here are four new ways to get the blues."

-David Kidney
Greenman Review
April, 2008 


"Kansas blues duo Aaron Moreland (guitars) and Dustin Arbuckle (vocals, harmonica) have a thick, muscular sound that smells like early Chicago blues, still reminiscent of the Delta. Bet they're killer live."

-John P. McLaughlin
Vancouver Province
March, 2008 


"This trio plays old-school hill country and Delta blues, even though the members range in age from 26 to 33. There's a satisfying mix of acoustic and electric numbers, and when the band plugs in, sometimes it veers off into '50s Chicago-style blues.

"Although the sound covers most of the blues bases, geographically the group hails from the non-blues hotbed of Kansas. (The title,
1861, refers to the year Kansas became a state.)

"Guitarist Aaron Moreland, who plays everything from the National steel to 'cigar box guitars,' and gritty vocalist and harmonica player Dustin Arbuckle share writing duties, with Brad Horner supplying the requisite primitive beats.

"The well-chosen covers include Hound Dog Taylor's
Gonna Send You Back to Georgia and R.L. Burnside's See My Jumper. and the Moreland-Arbuckle originals share the raw energy of Burnside and Junior Kimbrough's music. The band sometimes rocks out like the North Mississippi Allstars, another obvious influence. It's yet another fine signing for NorthernBlues."

-Jeff Johnson
Chicago Sun Times
March, 2008 


"A half dozen years back the raw drum and guitar duo The Black Keys started a blues revival of sorts. Many followed, few succeeded in creating a reasonable resonance. Moreland and Arbuckle, however, are an exception. Actually a trio - with friends - this band creates a subtle racket through a foot-stomping, passion-filled, howlin' roar down a sweltering Southern highway to the true blues' delta roots."

-Glenn BurnSilver
The Reporter-Herald, Colorado
March, 2008 


"Describing their music as 'hill country blues from Kansasí shows the augmented duo of Aaron Moreland and Dustin Arbuckle have a sense of humour. (For the geographically challenged, Kansas is kind of ... err ... flat. As in Ďnot many hills at allí flat). But make no mistake - the music itself is, as the saying goes, 'serious as a heart attack.'

"Word has it these boys have been tearing it up all over the American heartland, with live shows approaching legendary status for exuberant energy and frantic delivery. And as we all know, studio recordings usually fail to capture a bandís energy. Not here, though - opening with fat, distorted guitar and ferociously in-your-face harp that lead into the train-rhythm
Gonna Send You Back To Georgia, itís hard to imagine any more energy could be squeezed in. Morelandís guitar slashes, Arbucklesís harp roars and wails, and Brad Horner provides the kind of percussive urgency that leaves listeners, let alone the drummer, awash in sweat.

"Given the ferocity of the leadoff track, the grinding
Fishiní Hole, with itís melodic guitar and harp over a chunky beat, comes almost as a relief. And the all-acoustic Tell Me Why has a back-porch feel to it, though there remains a spooky intensity that keeps things from becoming very relaxed. Diamond Ring, benefiting enormously from guest Chris Wiserís atmospheric B3, gives everyone an opportunity for some intriguing extrapolations as they play with the songís structure over an extended fade.

See My Jumper Hanginí Out On The Line channels the late R.L Burnside to excellent effect, and one could easily imagine Johnny Cash claiming the chugging rhythms of The Legend as his own. But pay attention to the story - this one hits hard, exposing the way even survivorsí lives are torn apart by war with unflinching honesty, all the more potent for itís decidedly apolitical perspective. Thereís also a refreshing simplicity to Never Far Behind, with its obviously-autobiographical lyrics celebrating the simple life without a trace of affectation.

Please, Please Mammy rides a Jimmy Reed style groove, but somehow Moreland and Arbuckle make it dark, with significantly more menace than the affable Mr. Reed ever managed. Pittsburgh In The Morning, Philadelphia At Night is all hill-country, though, a romping, stomping drone with Arbuckleís raw harmonica weaving throughout. Wrong I Do doesnít fare quite so well, however. An acoustic guitar/vocal duet, itís simply too slow-paced to sustain interest, though it might work as a quiet closer were it not for Wiser Jam, the collectionís only misstep. Even a jam has to have a musical purpose, and Wiser doesnít make much of a statement over its meandering six-and-a-half minutes (although the interplay among contributors makes for an interesting, if not quite engaging, listen).

"Morelandís guitar work (heís credited with electric, parlor, resonator, and cigar-box guitars) is uniformly excellent, though given the trio format heís largely restricted to rhythmic accompaniment, without much lead time; itís Arbuckle on harmonica who really shines, with great tone and a delightful mix of the expected and the thoroughly surprising. The harp is a limited instrument, but Arbuckle finds new sounds on almost every track here. His vocals wonít win awards but heís eminently effective, his unpretentious delivery a perfect match for the material.

"Raw and raucous, unconfined by convention and more interested in feel than formula, this is stellar stuff from a band to watch. Highly recommended!"

-John R. Taylor
March, 2008 


"Bluesmen Moreland & Arbuckle hail proudly from Kansas, and their 1861 -- a tribute to that state's induction into the Union -- is their first album on the Canadian label Northern Blues Music. The 12 tracks are raucous and real, edgy with raw distortion, and driven by drummer Brad Horner's backbeat, which smokes like a freight train. Dustin Arbuckle, on vocals and harmonica, infuses each song with rich resonance and warmth, while his partner, Aaron Moreland, keeps it grungy with electric, resonator, parlor, and cigar-box guitars. The opener, a cover of Hound Dog Taylor's "Gonna Send You Back to Georgia," sets the pace for the rollicking, rocking rest of the disc. "The Legend" follows a heart-hardened Vietnam War veteran through 40 years of emotional and spiritual pain, and features a guest appearance by Jeffrey Eaton on a one-string bass homemade from a gas tank. The blues lives in each track, lamenting good men, bad women, a lack of luck, and a mess of trouble."

-Shannon Holliday
Good Sound
February 1, 2008 


"Moreland & Arbuckle play a compelling brand of blues that blends the best of Hill Country, Rural, and Mississippi Delta blues into a primal and potent mix. Having previously recorded an acoustic and an electric album, their NorthernBlues Music debut, 1861, features electric and acoustic prominently.

"The duo consists of guitarists Aaron 'Chainsaw' Moreland and harmonica player/singer Dustin Arbuckle, with occasional assistance from drummer Brad Horner, Chris Wiser on Hammond B-3, and Jeffrey Eaton on homemade 'gas tank bass' on one track.

"The opening cut, a seriously juiced take of Hound Dog Taylorís
Gonna Send You Back To Georgia, threatens to blow the doors off. The follow-up, Fishiní Hole is a whimsical tune inspired by Moreland taking his kids fishing. The gentle rhythms of Tell Me Why recalls the moody Hill Country sound of Mississippi Fred McDowell, but the groove picks up fast and hard again with Diamond Ring, one of the best cuts on the disc.

"Another Hill Country legend, R. L. Burnside, gets a nod with a spirited cover of
See My Jumper Hanginí Out On The Line, another standout track highlighted by a strong vocal by Arbuckle. The Legend is also a strong track, but seems a bit out of place here with its country-western twang. The next three tracks, all originals, feature Morelandís slide guitar on Never Far Behind, his acoustic chops on Teasiní Doney, and a Jimmy Reed shuffle on Please, Please Mammy.

"Closing things out are an interesting cover of Ryan Taylorís
Pittsburgh in the Morning, Philadelphia At Night, Wrong I Do, a gentle acoustic number, and Wiser Jam, an almost jazzy instrumental.

"It's hard to believe, but the best merger of Mississippi Hill Country blues, Delta blues, and rural blues in years may come from a duo from Kansas.
1861 is an electrifying set that will earn a spot on your stereo's regular rotation for a long time with their fresh interpretation of old classics and new songs that fit seamlessly with the old. These guys mean business!"

-Graham Clarke
Blues Bytes
February, 2008 


"A trio of youngish Kansas cats got da blooz in a big way and they give it right back as a blues power trio that can either give you a journey through the past or a rocket ride into tomorrow. The sum total of a lot of influences they are happy to wear proudly, this crew serve it up steaming hot. Steeping in the blues tradition of braggadocio, they back up their claims just as easily and show contemporary blues doesnít have to be a watered down, ersatz experience."

-Chris Spector
Midwest Record
February 7, 2008 


"When you put this Moreland and Arbuckle CD on, get ready to have the world stop to ask, 'whoís that?' In a world of musical perfection, Moreland and Arbuckleís raw distorted tones are more than refreshing. Unshaven and at times coarse, Aaron Morelandís dense and primitive guitar grooves combined with Dustin Arbuckleís raspy vocals and edgy harmonica fire up their earthy, rural blues.

-Art Tipaldi, Contributing Editor
Blues Revue and BluesWax

"According to the liner notes on their Northern Blues release,
1861 , Aaron Moreland and Dustin Arbuckle have lived most of their lives in Kansas. That certainly is fitting since the music on 1861 roars out at you like a tornado cutting a path through the great plains. From the opening notes of Gonna Send You Back to Georgia this music grabs you and refuses to let go, pulling you along on a joyous roots ride. With Brad Horner joining the duo on drums, they create a huge sound worthy of a much larger band. Their own songs really ring true to the blues, and the carefully chosen covers, such as See My Jumper..... are done tastefully and with the raucous spirit of the originals. This sounds like a blues band with a 1960's garage band energy, a dynamic combination that is hard to beat.

1861 is evidence that even though this music started in the Mississippi Delta, like a giant strong oak tree it's branches have spread far in every direction and connected us all in its sonic embrace. Somewhere in blues heaven R.L. Burnside is grinning and saying "well, well, well...."

-Brett Fleming
WEVL Memphis

"From the heartland of America, these young men bring to the table a powerful devil's potion of Delta, hill-country, and postwar electrified blues, all rolled into one... With 1861, Moreland and Arbuckle come across as a brilliant, youthful duo with a deep understanding of the paths traveled by the masters from whom they have very ably adapted their contemporary sound."

-Don Crow
Music City Blues

"Moreland & Arbuckle deliver all the goods on 1861 with straight-razor blues & boogie. A fresh and hones take on the true blues."

-Ellis Kell
True Blue, The Dispatch & The Rock Island Argus