Amos Garrett
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Amos Garrett


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"Get Way Back - A Tribute To Percy Mayfield"

At most, Percy Mayfield might be credited for his song "Hit the Road Jack," but this disc reveals a songwriting ability that ran much deeper and broader than one hit. Garrett's homage to Mayfield showcases not only the songs' humanity, but also Garrett's bluesy touch. His vocal delivery is as smooth as molasses, while his guitar - indeed, the entire instrumental backing - harkens back decades.

Songs like "Stranger In My Own Hometown" are, perhaps, even darker than the title would suggest. Dave Babcock's saxophones provide a link to the R&B and rockabilly of the 1950's. Garrett's guitar playing does the same. On "The Country" he plays against the organ, while drums keep a steady beat. This song too sounds like a recording from the 50's or 60's by a group of roadhouse veterans at a slightly more uptown gig. Then the mournful saxes return, making acquaintance with Garrett's heavy-on-the-reverb guitar on "To Claim It's Love," another down-on-his-luck story. Garrett's world-weary vocals are the perfect complement to the material, and the dolorous instrumental backing is spot on.

- Ross Boissoneau - Jazziz Magazine - September 1, 2008


Guitarist Amos Garrett has had a long career recording and touring with the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, Paul Butterfield’s Better Days, Stevie Wonder, Maria Muldaur and Elvin Bishop. He’s also recorded a number of his own discs and has collaborated with Gene Taylor and the late Doug Sahm as the Formerly Brothers. This disc finds him with his long time band, The Eh! Team, featuring Bucky Berger on drums and Victor Bateman on bass. Also featured are Ken Whiteley on piano, Ron Casat on Hammond b3, Dave Babcock on saxophones and Alistair Elliott on trumpet. With this crew in tow, Garrett turns his attention to the songbook of R & B giant Percy Mayfield. Mayfield, perhaps best known for the oft covered classics, Hit the Road Jack and Please Send Me Someone to Love, also penned numerous other gems as evidenced by the eleven cuts included here. Garrett’s understated, laid back approach adds a breeziness to the material that makes it almost easy to overlook the darkness that often seeps into the lyrics. For example, the punchy horn chart of Stranger in My Own Hometown hides the heartache of not getting acknowledged at home while the uptown swing of My Jug and I is almost at odds with the chronicle of Mayfield’s difficult affliction with the bottle. On the other hand, River’s Invitation and Never Say Naw are simmering scorchers that are as ominous as the barely concealed threats against a lover on the brink of giving him the goodbye look. The Country lopes along with an easy charm that exactly matches the lyrics about letting nature wash away your worries. Even though an easy pace dominates most of this set, Garrett does know how to turn up the temperature as evidenced by Get Way Back, a jump/swing number that would fit nicely on a Wynonie Harris disc. Don’t mistake the low key approach to musical laziness. Instead, Garrett and crew lay down restrained, tasteful charts that leave no room for overplaying. Matching the elegant musical approach is Garrett’s easy baritone drawl which channels Lou Rawls, Bill Withers and, occasionally, Leon Russell. - Mark Smith -

"Amos Garrett - Get Way Back"

Amos Garrett is probably best known for his guitar solo on Maria Muldaur’s 1974 hit "Midnight At the Oasis" (one of Jimmy Page’s favorites) and his work with Paul Butterfield’s Better Days. Over nearly 40 years, Garrett’s brilliant, tasteful playing has enhanced countless recording sessions by artists ranging from Todd Rundgren to Bonnie Raitt. Get Way Back is his seventh disc for the Canadian roots-music label Stony Plain, and this time around he concentrates on the music of blues great Percy Mayfield.

Mayfield was a highly regarded songwriter whose successes for other singers include Ray Charles’ "Hit the Road Jack." Garrett doesn’t cover that tune, but he takes a soulful run at "Lost Mind," which Mose Allison made famous. Garrett gets Mayfield's combination of elegance and grit down perfectly on Get Way Back, but he doesn't copy him as much as capture the spirit of the earlier musician's greatness. Garrett's baritone is a fine instrument for interpreting Mayfield's lyrics, but it is his guitar playing that really commands attention. His solos are concise and fluidly played, with a deceptively laid-back feel that belies their complexity. Guitarists will be woodshedding for months to lift ideas from Garrett’s work.

Get Way Back is exceptionally well recorded, placing Garrett’s voice firmly in the center of the soundstage and a little forward, with the remaining instruments precisely arranged behind him. Engineers Nik Tjelios and Dave Allcock capture the timbre of each instrument, especially the horns (nicely arranged by Dave Babcock). Get Way Back is the work of a master.

by Joseph Taylor - SoundStage! August 2008


1980 Electric Guitar of Amos Garrett
1984 Amos Behavin
1989 I Make My Home in My Shoes
1990 Live in Japan
1991 Go Cat Go
1992 Third Man In
1994 Live
1996 Off the Floor Live!
2001 Buried Alive in the Blues
2004 Michigan Water Blues
2004 Acoustic Album
2004 The Return of the Formerly Bros.
2008 Get Way Back: A Tribute to Percy Mayfield



A Stony Plain artist biography

Amos Garrett:
A fascinating, understated, and
powerful portrayal of a blues legend

Is this collection of Percy Mayfield’s
songs the guitarist’s masterpiece?

Amos Garrett, if truth be told, has been part of the roots music scene for well over 40 years, and right now he’s enjoying the fruits of his labor. Laid back, and with a sense of humor so dry that one could light matches on his pants, he is marking a new level of independence — and has released what his fellow musicians are already calling the best record of his long career.

Get Way Back: A Tribute to Percy Mayfield is a collection of songs by one of the very best — if lesser-known — songwriters in American roots music history. And Garrett, in his wonderfully contrary way, found some of the very best tunes by the man who was called “The Poet Laureate of the Blues” — but did not include the man’s most-covered songs,” Hit the Road Jack” and “Please Send Me Someone To Love.”

“Well,” Garrett explained, “those songs have been sung before.”

Get Way Back, for once, puts the emphasis on Garrett’s deep, supple voice, with his trademark guitar style perfectly complementing the lyrics, but more understated than usual. And the songs — many of them deep, dark and full of foreboding — make for a remarkably satisfying listening experience.

Produced by Garrett himself, and recorded in Toronto and Calgary, the record features long-time collaborators Ron Casat on keys, and sax player Dave Babcock, who also arranged the quietly effective horn parts, which feature trumpet player Alistair Elliott. Bucky Berger on drums and bassist Victor Bateman are also veterans of Amos’ band, which he long ago christened the Eh! Team. Ken Whiteley, whose Toronto studio was used for some of the recording, plays piano.

It’s difficult, with any successful musician, to sum up four decades of hard work and noteworthy accomplishments. Here are just a few notes about Amos Garrett.

• Born in Detroit in 1941.
• Raised in Montreal and Toronto.
• Early influences: Hearing Fats Domino, T-Bone Walker, B.B. King and dozens more at Montreal’s long-gone Esquire Club on Stanley Street.
• First band: Toronto-based folk group The Dirty Shames.
• First major U.S. appearance: At Carnegie Hall with comedian and JFK imitator Vaugn Meador.
• First choice session guitarist: During the ’70s and early ’80s, Amos recorded tracks with more than 150 artists — from Stevie Wonder to Bonnie Raitt, not to mention Anne Murray (yes, you can hear him on “Snowbird”!), Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, Pearls Before Swine and Maria Muldaur (everyone remembers his one-take solo on Midnight at the Oasis), and Jesse Winchester.
• Touring: Worked as a member of Ian & Sylvia’s Great Speckled Bird and Paul Butterfield’s Better Days; and toured with Maria Muldaur as her bandleader. Has had his own band, The Eh! Team, for more than 25 years.
• Guitar heroes Chet Atkins, Richard Thompson and Mark Knopfler have all praised Garrett’s unique style.

His musical partnership with Geoff Muldaur led him to his Stony Plain debut with the release of a laid back album of duets by the pair in the mid ’70s. Now sadly out of the catalogue, it was followed by Go Cat Go, Make My Home in My Shoes, Third Man In, and the Juno-winning collaboration with Gene Taylor and Doug Sahm, Return of the Formerly Brothers. A live album with Doug and Gene, recorded in Japan, followed, and Amosbehavin’, Off the Floor Live, and Acoustic Album added to the catalogue.
Garrett has long been one of Stony Plain’s signature artists, and the thought of recording an album of Percy Mayfield songs was eagerly endorsed by artist and label alike.
After all, there are very few R&B singers who haven’t recorded at least one of Percy Mayfield’s songs, and that list includes Ray Charles, Etta James, Bobby Bland, B.B. King, Johnny Adams, Jimmy Witherspoon, Junior Parker, Amos Milburn, and Nappy Brown, not to mention more recent interpreters including Mose Allison, Luther Allison and Long John Baldry.