Big Dave McLean
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Big Dave McLean


Band Blues Acoustic


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"Wood, Wires & Whiskey"

Big Dave McLean
Acoustic Blues: Got ‘em from the Bottom
By David Barnard

Big Dave McLean really is big, or at least very tall. His voice is big, about the size of the Saskatchewan horizon, where he was born in 1951. People, like Colin James or the boys of the Perpetrators, say Big Dave has a big heart too, filled with blues belief. No one says Big Dave has a big head. This third CD for Stony Plain, and only his fifth recording in a career spanning more than 35 years, is terrific. It’s the culmination of everything he’s done before, only stronger. There are two reasons. One: the cliché of blues artists getting better with age applies, and McLean’s ragged voice sounds natural, not forced, as he laments Barbecue Bob’s “Atlanta Moan” or on his composition, the wistful “Comin’ Home To You.” Secondly, the simplified acoustic setting works, giving the lyrics precedence but still room for the players shine, particularly Gord Kidder’s darting harmonica and McLean’s National steel playing. From the bottom they have come, to the top Big Dave’s blues are rising. (Stony Plain) - - October 2008

"“ACOUSTIC BLUES” Big Dave Mclean"

“ACOUSTIC BLUES” Big Dave Mclean (Stony Plain) ***¾

I guess there is such a thing as truth in advertising. The latest from this mainstay of the Canadian blues scene, subtitled “Got ‘Em From The Bottom”, is indeed acoustic blues. You’d swear Big Dave was from somewhere around Clarksdale Mississippi, instead in Winnipeg.

McLean’s guitar playing is imbued with many delta ghosts, and his gravely voice gives the tunes that ‘this guy knows what he’s singing about’ vibe. What is perhaps as gratifying as it is startling is that 13 of these 19 tracks are Mclean originals, mixed with blues classics written by Sleepy John Estes, Muddy Waters, Lightnin’ Hopkins and more. That his material can fraternize with that of some of the blues’ greatest songwriters is a testament to the talent and soul of the man himself.

Some of the tracks on “Acoustic Blues” are just Dave McLean and his National Steel, and the band tracks are deft and subtle- acoustic guitars with some harp while the drums and bass pulse and throb like a dark undercurrent- giving the whole disc an intimate feel that blues fans, regardless of whether you know Big Dave’s music or not, will embrace. It’s not unlike putting on an old Son House album, or Kelly Joe Phelps’ excellent “Lead Me On” set on the Burnside label from ’94- not to compare them directly as artists, but the level of intimacy is quite similar.

If you like your blues high and lonesome, “Acoustic Blues” should be playing in your stereo right now.

KEY CUTS: “Louisiana Blues/ Forty Four (medley)”, “Atlanta Moan”, “Good Morning Little School Girl” - *John Kereiff*


FOR THE BLUES ALWAYS - 1998 - Stony Plain Records
BLUES FROM THE MIDDLE - 2003 - Stony Plain Records
ACOUSTIC BLUES - 2008 - Stony Plain Records



Big Dave, an animated, gravel voiced, harp and guitar player, is a veteran Prairie Blues artist who has been playing his own brand of passionate blues since the early seventies.

'Big Dave's been the quintessential behind-the-scene bluesman. He's done more to shape the Western Canadian Blues scene than perhaps any other artist'.
- Billboard

ACOUSTIC BLUES - GOT EM' FROM THE BOTTOM is his fifth release. His two previous, highly acclaimed, Stony Plain titles have won Western Canadian Music Awards and early 2008 Dave won a Maple
Blues Award for his lifetime contribution to the blues. Dave's latest includes mostly acoustic performances of original material plus covers from Muddy Waters (his mentor), Lightnin' Hopkins and Barbeque Bob.

A masterful guitarist and top notch harpist, Dave's raw and gravelly vocals bespeak of a life lived to the fullest, and a career spent performing countless
gigs. He is truly one of Canada's hardest working blues artists.

'Big Dave McLean is one of those musicians who has dug a deep trench across this country and he's the man who has been the heart of the blues
scene for close to four decades. He’s the real deal, a blues singer armed with a voice that could give a miles' worth of boxcars rumbling through the
Winnipeg train yards a run for their money.'
- Peter North from the liner notes