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Gary Tate
November 21-27, 2001

more reviews of Rattlebag
Paul Reddick and The Sidemen rattle those pots and pans on Rattlebag

Rattlebag has a highly appropriate sub-title: "Hard Blues for Modern Times". That sweeping brush would create an immediate challenge for the talents of any performer. But any doubts are dissipated within seconds of groovin' to this terrific listen.

Stark, uncompromising, and dripping with emotional authenticity,
Rattlebag is a reminder that the Blues can be pushed far beyond good-natured shuffles. Paul Reddick draws upon the classic wellsprings of course, but he was especially impacted by the vastness and wonders of the Alan Lomax Collection too. It meant immersing himself in the Blues at its pure folk core, removed from the usual legacy of pre-war and post-war recording artists. The unheralded common folk just singing about their lives became the primary source of inspiration behind the fertile Reddick imagination.

At the end of this haunting, exceedingly generous 16-track odyssey, a sense of completeness is felt - as it is with all great Blues recordings. Nothing more needs be said - or added. It felt like I was listening to a great old/modern Blues recording featuring both contemporary and traditional themes.

There's little doubt that Paul Reddick and The Sidemen are not Canada's rising Blues super group. I can safely predict that many of these songs will be covered in the coming years (and decades) by dozens (and eventually hundreds) of other artists. Moreover, Fred Litwin of NorthernBlues Records (Rita Chiarelli, Otis Taylor, JW-Jones and now Paul Reddick) has not firmly consolidated his reputation as head of one of the best new blues labels in the world.

Sidemen guitarist Kyle Ferguson's brilliant accompaniment delivers in full on his well-known potential. Guest artist, the legendary pianist Richard Bell, adds masterful brushstrokes to an already great recording. Colin Linden produced
Rattlebag with his expected understated elegance in tow, and also provides impeccable guitar and Dobro turns and delivers some heartfelt harmony vocals. Let's not forget the backup foundation, the Sidemen rhythm section of Messrs. Vince Maccarone and Greg Marshak on bass and drums respectively.

Rattlebag belongs in the following special category: "must-have-right-now." The guys consistently rattle the pots and pans wherever they perform - so kitchen staff beware. It's all about supply and demand, meaning once you buy the CD, you'll be demanding to see them live. Or is it vice versa? Either way you'll be drooling over the prospect of adding Rattlebag to your music collection.

Rattlebag belongs in the following special category: "must-have-right-now."
The guys consistently rattle the pots and pans wherever they perform..."