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Music Review - `Hot Chicken Wisdom` by Rich Mahan (jh)

Rich MahanHot Chicken Wisdom (click on image to watch video)

18 November 2019 

 

It took guitarist/singer-songwriter Rich Mahan seven years to follow up his Blame Booby Bare due to the unexpected death of his co-producer engineer for that album, Brian “Brain” Harrison to whom this one, Hot Chicken Wisdom, is dedicated. Gleaning titles like “Day drinking,” “I Smoke Pot,” “Hot Chicken & An Ice Cold 40,” and “Stoned As a Roman Slave” it’s fair to say that Mahan and Harrison liked to paint the town red. Mahan calls the album “celebratory” and its blend of country and rock n’ roll certainly is conducive to rolling a few and sipping some cold ones. These are eight new tunes paired with three new arrangements of favorites that Mahan performs in his live sets. 

Mahan and Harrison originally planned his debut follow-up for 2014 before Harrison succumbed to a heart attack in the pre-production phase. Plans were shelved, Mahan retreated to live work exclusively until he could focus clearly on the recording process. “Most of the songs on HCW are either one he loved or were inspired by him and the things he’d say, and there’s a couple of ballads in there for the ladies. Brain was as off-kilter as I am, and I felt I met a kindred spirit right away when we were introduced. He taught me a lot in a short period of time, and the songs on HCW reflect a lot of his teachings,” says Mahan.

Mahan recorded and engineered the album himself, calling on many of Music City’s best session musicians. They are good friend and harmonica ace PT Gazell (Johnny Paycheck), stellar harmony vocalist Bekka Bramlett, bassist Dave Roe (Johnny Cash, Jerry Reed) on “Tick On My Taint” and “Open Up Your Heart.” Roe played standup bass on the harmonica-driven “Coffee in the Morning” to give it a different feel. Keyboardist Mark T. Jordan who has played with artists such as Van Morrison, Buddy Guy, and Bonnie Raitt, to name a few, is aboard as well as bassist Chelvis Childers, vocalist Ginger Sands, and multi-instrumentalist Grayson Downs. There are several others in the credits as well but the graphics make it somewhat difficult to identify all of them.

The album does a decent job of blending acoustic and electric instruments and mostly stays upbeat, as Mahan intended. The longest track, a shade over five minutes is “Loose Lucy,” from the Dead’s Mars Hotel. The writing is distinctly Hunter/Garcia, standing apart from Mahan’s own originals. It was the last song Mahan recorded at The Rendering Pant before Harrison’s passing. Another recognizable cover is the Bee Gees “To Love Somebody” which is the most celebratory song of all, with Bramlett’s animated harmonies shining through.

Mahan sums up, “In my mind, the songs on this album are all connected to Brain in some way, some were songs of mine that made him laugh, or were written after hearing one of his spit-take worthy stories. His one-of-a-kind vernacular, colorful phrases, and his take on life and how to live it are all here in these songs. Brain had Hot Chicken Wisdom.” 

Mahan’s, as he calls it, HCW, will bring some foot-tapping and smiling. It’s a casually fun listen.

 

Jim Hynes

 

 

Jim Hynes is an independent contributor on music for several magazines, including Elmore and Country Standard Time. He has also written for Variety. He was a listener-supported public station(s) radio host for 25 years in CT, MI, NJ and PA. He is also a Live music host/Emcee at several national and regional venues.

To Read All of Jim's Reviews, Click Here

 

 


 

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