My friend Barb, who among other things blogs as Bad Tempered Zombie, introduced me to the recording Flirting with Mermaids by Manitoba Hal. She did this in the best possible way – she mailed me the CD! Barb knows I like all kinds of roots music, or what I like to call that folky-dolky music. That includes the blues, and regular readers of 27th Street know it also includes the ukulele.
Manitoba Hal is a really good uke player. He also happens to be a really good songwriter and performer too. Flirting with Mermaids is a well-balanced mix of original tunes and covers, recorded with clean, sparse arrangements that let the uke and vocals play off one another nicely.
I’ve only had a chance to listen through a couple times, but I’ll be giving Hal’s music some time. So far my favourite is a very bluesy arrangement of the Merle Travis tune, Sixteen Tons. As I type this, I’m listening to Down in Pubnico – it’s got some accordion and fiddle happening along with the uke. I’m enjoying the way this one builds with additional vocals.
I like that Manitoba Hal has strayed a little off the beaten path and worked at finding a unique and personal style. I think there is plenty of room for some alternative instrumentation in a recording scene that loves guitars/bass/drums.
I did a search for Manitoba Hal on YouTube and sure enough there he is….
Thanks Barb for sending Flirting with the Mermaids my way. I’m really enjoying this!