Paul Reddick + The Sidemen - Reviews


"This 2001 release by Toronto's Paul Reddick + The Sidemen is nothing short of excellent ... Rattlebag is a tour de force of dark blues that captures all of the emotions that make up real blues."

-Pete "Bootlegger" Barbeck
Southwest Blues
December 2002 


"I was blown away by what I heard. The fact that the music just feels so pure and deep rooted made me take a second listen. After that, there's a whole world of beauty behind what you'll find on this album. This is definitely a keeper. "

-Michael Allison
Music Dish
June 7, 2002 


"Led by singer/songwriter/harpist Paul Reddick, the Sidemen are one of the most innovative bands playing under the blues banner these days; any band leader who cites influences as diverse as William Carlos Williams, Sleep John Estes, and Alan Lomax is worth a listen. Little here is actually blues as LB readers would define it, although the subject matter of men, women, cars, night time, love, sex, joy and despair will be familiar enough. Musically, Rattlebag isn't blues, jazz or rock, but contains elements of all three. The songs are innovative, challenging and are often startling both musically and lyrically. Worthy of special note are the driving rhythms of One Way Trip, the unplugged slide guitar of Pearl River Blues, and Trouble Again. Rattlebag will reward adventurous listeners."

Living Blues
April 2002 


"With Rattlebag, the band's fourth album, it becomes obvious that The Sidemen have few equals in the world of Canadian blues bands. Credit belongs to leader Reddick who, besides being a very impressive singer and harp player, is also a literate songwriter who draws his inspiration from such luminaries as William Blake, Eudora Welty, and Kenneth Rexroth.

Musically, some of the influences on Rattlebag can be traced to Sleepy John Estes, Fred McDowell, and Alan Lomax's field recordings. Colin Linden, the best producer in the country for this sort of thing, contributes mightily to the overall quality by adding his own playing to the group's talents. Richard Bell adds just the right texture on piano and organ. Nothing stale or clichéd in this rattlebag of blues."

Dirty Linen
April/May 2002 


"...a blast of fresh, new blues from
our Canadian neighbors to the North..."

-Eric Steiner
Cosmik Debris Magazine
November 2001 


"Paul Reddick & the Sidemen - Rattlebag (NorthernBlues Music). With Rattlebag, their fourth album, this highly underrated blues outfit manages to incorporatedamn near the entire history of the blues into sixteen rollicking songs. Reddick and the Sidemen have enough rock chops to boogie with the best of them but they also have a firm grasp on the artistic demons that drove hundreds of young men out of the Mississippi Delta and north towards the promise of a better life. The sixteen songs on Rattlebag mix rural blues, the Chicago sound, Texas six-string wizardry and New Orleans R&B into a thick musical gumbo that will satisfy your soul even while tickling your lobes."

-Rev. Keith A. Gordon
The View, Long BeachCalifornia
The Best Music of 2001 - Best Blues Album
Jan 1 - Jan 14, 2002


"Canada's hottest contemporary blues band delivers the biggest pleasant surprise of the year. Steamy Southern roots-rock-blues with a 1930's feel. Profoundly refreshing songwriting and intelligent, poetic lyrics filled with colorful metaphors. Reddick, a self described purveyor of "hard blues for modern times", put down 16 remarkably even, consistently powerful tracks. If you lamented the breakup of the Subdudes, loved the swampy slide guitar of Lowell George and the wail of the old time Delta harmonica of Sonny Boy Williamson, and the refreshing brashness of early rock-n-roll, get with this. Perhaps there was a prophecy in "For all that's gone and tumbles down. Like a lonesome song make a change blues". Their foot-stomping, exuberantly fun blues, played with tasty fineness and heartfelt feeling, will soon have us all singing "all the world is a silhouette of Sleepy John Estes with a cigarette" A real gem, this Rattlebag."

-Frank Matheis
Frank's Picks, WKZE, NY-CT


"They can move effortlessly from a rocked-up jump blues tune to an acoustic performance straight out of the Delta without missing a heartbeat."

-Don and Sheryl Crow
Music City Blues, Nashville, TN
December 2001 


"Starting with the second track, Sleepy John Estes, this CD has a 60's, Chicago blues feel. "Pinegum" begins with a funky blues riff reminiscent of Memphis soul, then goes into ripping harmonica lines. All the songs were written by Paul Reddick or the Sidemen, making for all-original enjoyment. "King o' the Zig-Zag", one of my favorites, features tinkling piano with intertwining harmonica. Slide-guitar fans will like "Pearl River Blues", "Dreamin' Dreamin'" and "Blind River Bound." Echoish harmonica transcends "06/19" and "Smokehouse". Vocals sung through a harmonica bullet-mike make "Rattelbag" a standout track. "Tumblin' Down" closes out the CD with a mystical feel. All in all, there is a wide variety of blues that will make anyone enjoy this recording."

-Terry Underwood
Colorado Blues Society
December 2001 - January 2002


"With Colin Linden in the control room, Canada's own premier bluesmen serve up their fourth collection of delicious old style blues, cooked up hard with jagged hard riffs and razor-sharp slide licks. Anchored in the roots of the genre's earliest folklore, Reddick et al. tear through over-amped scrawl (Sleepy John Estes, King O' the Zig Zag) jangly guitar and heavy harp grooves (Pinegum, Scufflewood) and a clash of spine-tingling electric/acoustic spookiness from the graveyard (Pearl River Blues, Dreamin' Dreamin'). Definitely not for the faint of heart. But experiencing Reddick and crew's outstanding flair for voodooing up their brand of primitive roots music is essential listening for any blues enthusiast."

-Greg Perry
Times & Transcript, Moncton, NB
December 12,2001


"Stark, uncompromising, and dripping with emotional authenticity..."

-Gary Tate
November 21-27, 2001 


"This bold release instantly distinguishes itself as 'smart' blues. There's simply no better way to describe something so studied and so original in its approach."

-Eric Thom
Blues Revue
Autumn, 2001 


"While the group has its own sound, the overall tone is that of a gritty, smoky Chicago corner blues bar inhabited by long-time dedicated afficionados who know their blues like the backs of their hands and want it played straight up like a glass of whiskey."

-Les Reynolds
November 8, 2001 


" would be worth opening your wallet to pick up RATTLEBAG, an absolute gem of a CD, no matter what genre you want to file it under. Try 'I', for Incredible. You'll never get it out of your CD player. And you won't care."

-Joe Hartlaub
September 2001 


"Slinky guitar work, a rhythm section that's tighter than Laura Bush and that most expressive harp."

-Jon Worley
Aiding and Abetting
Fall 2001 


"Northern Blues has done it again, once more stretching the boundaries of the blues, exploring it's limits while remaining true to the spirit. Rattlebag is nothing short of a masterpiece; not easy, not 'fun', but a fascinating, challenging, and ultimately rewarding journey nonetheless. In other words, a work of art. My very highest recommendation!"

-John Taylor


"The music has a strong folk appeal and portrays the true essence of the blues. The down to earth soul and powerful musical vibes provide the backbone to this amazing music..."

-Michael Allison
Autumn, 2001 


"The listener will notice that all the 'clichéd' riffs are absent and have been replaced by exciting new licks on guitar and harp. "

-Richard Bourcier
Senior Staff Writer
The Jazz Review
Autumn, 2001 


"Their sound is big, gutsy, and mean and has, at times, a raw energy that whips across the room like a downed power line on wet highway."

-Doug Gallant
The Guardian
Charlottetown, PEI
August 24, 2001 

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"...there is no denying that Reddick has the blues deep in the marrow of his bones."

-Charleston Post & Courier
Charleston, South Carolina
August 23, 2001 


"If you're looking for that hard edge, look no further than Rattlebag with it's scratchy vocal effects and fierce Harmonica licks. The whole CD is a rich ethnic blues narrative."

-George Hirvela
Delta Snake
August 2001 


With any luck, the passage of time brings a measure of maturity and restraint, and Rattlebag lacks for neither. With 10 years under the belt and three albums to their credit, the Sidemen have shaken things up a bit. It's Paul Reddick and the Sidemen now, but more than the name has changed.

Producer Colin Linden has tightened the reins here, the Toronto band's energy has been harnessed, and the result is a marvellous work of constrained intensity. The album's strength and uniqueness is found in the poetic, image-laden lyrics of singer/harpist Reddick -- "All the world in a silhouette, with Sleepy John Estes and a cigarette" -- laid overtop the musical grab-bag that is Rattlebag: from the country wash of
Blind River Bound, to the Oh Brother, Where art Thou-ness of Trouble Again, to the riff-hard Scufflewood, to the slow groove of I'm A Criminal.

The road that led to
Rattlebag was a decade-long and worth the wait. "Who'd have known, who could tell," Reddick sings on Sleepy John Estes, "that livin' so hard was livin' so well."

-Brad Wheeler
Globe & Mail, Toronto
Autumn 2001
3½ Stars


Acclaimed producer/blues musician Colin Linden has said that Paul Reddick is one the most original and inventive singer-songwriters in blues today. He is an intuitive, self-taught musician who is always exploring and searching to express. His work has been influenced by such poets as William Blake, Kenneth Rexroth, William Carlos Williams as well as the music of Sleepy John Estes, Fred McDowell and the Alan Lomax field recordings. By no means a imitator he has developed a personal style all his own. As a songwriter, Paul presents life’s observations in a unique storytelling fashion. His lyrics have a close-up, whisper in your ear quality of the best songs and poetry. Stories of travel, night, sex, longing, love lost, time and space, both rural and urban. He is a strong, soulful vocalist whose focus and intensity connect him to the listener with genuine intimacy. His harmonica playing is a blend of complex rhythmic patterns, soaring solo lines, great dynamic range, toning and phrasing.

In November 2000 Paul Reddick + The Sidemen recorded their fourth album
'Rattlebag'. The songs are written with the poet’s ear for sound, rhyme, rhythm and metaphor. The music varies from the spiraling ‘Trouble Again’, to the unusual patterns in the work song ‘Pearl River Blues’.

Catch Paul Reddick + The Sidemen now.