Head For The Hills

Markus James

Firenze Records 2014

Review by David Bowling


Markus James is one of the more interesting and unique artists performing and recording today. He plays a variety of instruments including electric and acoustic guitar, harmonica, gourd banjo, dulcimer, and a 1-string diddley bow. While his versatility is laudable; the unique and interesting part comes from the fact that he only records and performs with a drummer or percussionist. He has now returned with his latest album titled Head For The Hills.

James fuses the blues of the southern delta with what can be considered its West African origins. He spent a number of years in Mali, where he produced five albums that gradually connected his African based music to the rhythms of the delta. It all adds up to a primitive exploration of the blues as he melds his various instruments to whatever percussion instruments may be handy, including drums, buckets, pots & pans, and even a little hambone percussion.

His music is a double history lesson as it connects the delta blues to its African roots. His use of five drummers various the music but it always remains true to his fusion approach. Songs such as “Suit Of Golden Clothes,” “Fallin From The Sky,” “Gone Like Tomorrow,” “Candyland Refugee,” and “Diddley Bow And Buckets” are a journey through the fertile mind of an artist who has taken the blues road less traveled.

Head For The Hills continues the adventurous creativity that that permeates his music. A good listen for anyone interested in the origins of the blues.

Rating: ***1’2