Danny Marks: Cities in Blue

Danny Marks Cities in Blue.jpg

Submitted by Lee Fraser

The year 2013 was a year of good fortune for Danny Marks and we, his fans, have been reaping the rewards ever since. The latest reward for our patience has just been released: “Cities in Blue”, the album. “Cities in Blue”, the television series, is an eight-episode series on HiFi featuring both the history and the current scene of eight North American cities or areas with strong blues connections. Danny Marks was approached to host the show and to write a song to accompany each episode of the television series. It was a natural progression to evolve those songs into an album of its own. This compilation of songs is a 35 minute tour of the names, the styles and the guitars of the blues in North America.

This album has a great mixture of magic and content: there are fun little moments that get you smiling the first time you listen, and a richness in the compositions that keeps you listening repeatedly. This is definitely an album that you can put in regular rotation. Danny Marks has assembled the blues royalty of Toronto - Ken Whiteley, Julian Fauth, Alec Fraser, Al Cross, David Rotundo among them – and recorded an album that feels as spontaneous and heartfelt as any one of his live shows. It’s moments like Sherie Marshall’s backup vocals on “Memphis Got Soul” and Chris Whiteley’s trumpet on “Once I Was Crazy” that have the power to give you goose bumps.

With the exception of a couple of traditional tunes, every song is an original, yet they all incorporate the classic blues styles of the cities they represent. There is a smattering of mimicry, in the most respectful way, in almost every piece. There’s the “Hoo! Hah!” of a deep south chain gang, the growl of Memphis’s Wolfman Jack and an urban element in the New York song. Within the originals, there are little quotes of traditional songs. All of these little treasures make the album feel like you’re hanging out with the man himself, the man who cannot help but gush out the wealth of musical relationships and history in his mind.

There are so many highlights on this album that it’s difficult to single out just a few. From the very first bubbly guitar licks and bold horns that kick off “Houston to L.A.”, it’s hard to keep still. “Beltline Blues” has a warm and sentimental feel to it, holding a special place in Danny’s heart, with references to his childhood and leaving home. The full-length original recording of “Lights Out”, the outro to Danny’s Saturday night BLUZ FM radio show, is included as a thank you to his fans.

Part of the appeal of getting a physical copy of the CD is the liner notes: Danny Marks has included a brief history of the origins of each song and it’s meaningfulness on the album. The arrangements and the musicianship on this album make it thoroughly enjoyable to listen to; the insider tidbits and the history lessons are valuable side benefits.

For more information visit www.dannym.com