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Gimme Delta

EdmontonÕs Bombchan explodes the myth that the heaviest blues music can only come from Mississippi
Published November 26, 2009 by Thomas Patrick Pringle in Music Feature

BOMBCHAN
w/ Hangloose, Burro. The ARTery (9535 Jasper Ave). Fri, Nov 27 (doors at 8pm, bands at 9:30pm). Tickets: $5 at the door.
ÒProper names are poetry in the raw,Ó W.H. Auden once said. ÒLike all poetry, they are untranslatable.Ó If youÕre hearing about EdmontonÕs newest blues-fuelled rock band Bombchan for the first time, you might be in for AudenÕs conundrum. What is a Bombchan?
ÒOh thatÕs my Korean name ... there isnÕt really a Canadian spelling for it,Ó says Michael Park, laughing at my moronic question. ÒOne day I was writing my cousin in Korea ... and I wrote Bombchan at the end, and she wrote back saying, ÔOh, I like how youÕve made your name explosive!Õ I was like, ÔYeah, IÕm onto something here!ÕÓ
ThatÕs exactly the type of intuitive logic Bombchan applies to the blues. Bombchan releases its new album Do Me Right at The ARTery on Friday night. The CD features six tracks, all of which are covers Ñ sorry, interpretations of classic Mississippi Delta blues songs. The band favours a heavier sound that growls where others whimper, and Park isnÕt afraid to put his own spin on things: ÒR.L. Burnside sings about going to the worldÕs fair,Ó Park jokes. ÒWhen IÕm singing ÔPoor Little Mattie,Õ IÕm not going to the fucking worldÕs fair! IÕm going to give my own personal twist to the lyrics, and thatÕs the tradition of the blues.Ó So, when will these guys start singing originals about the North Saskatchewan instead of the Mississippi?
ÒThereÕs a lot of original material coming up,Ó Park says, Òbut it was imperative to pay my respects to something that has influenced us so much, thatÕs the basis of Bombchan.Ó Park promises that FridayÕs show will feature some homegrown tales alongside BombchanÕs serving of Bukka White and Robert Petway. After all, when a band treads new ground on a genre that has such a rich history, you need to give a nod to the masters before you proceed.
Before Bombchan, Park made his name in the city designing and constructing skateboard parks, and expected that skaters would make up the bandÕs primary audience. So heÕs been surprised by the diverse crowds whoÕve been showing up to hear them play. ÒThe skateboard scene is digging it, the hipsters are digging it, the blues fans are digging it,Ó Park says. ÒItÕs a little heavy for some people, but I think thatÕs a good sign.Ó Everything that breaks down some boundaries is bound to catch a little flak, and Bombchan is ... well ... bombing them.
Park points to Mississippi Fred McDowellÕs ÒWrite Me a Few LinesÓ to illustrate what heÕs talking about: ÒHe says, ÔMy name is Mississippi Fred, I do not play no rock ÕnÕ roll,Õ but hey, I think the guy has written songs that transfer quite well.Ó
ThatÕs as good a summary of the Bombchan experience as any. After all, whatÕs in a name? That which we call the blues by any other name would sound as sweet.

- See Magazine


Bombchan
Do me Right
With this long-anticipated release, Mike Park gets down on the floor and draws a map of his blues lineage which, like it or not, is all the more interesting because he’s an Asian fellow split between Edmonton and New York City who comes off as ubiquitously gregarious and happy. Not exactly the blues template (thank God).
In Park’s case, the train stops at R.L. Burnside, where he gets his modern bounce; from Robert Petway, Park picks up some juicy licks à la Hendrix; and the rest of the album’s songs have a Bukka White’s motif, a distinctly non-whiny storytelling style, more generally sentimental than, you know, the kind of music that needs to retardedly say the word “blues” every five fucking seconds.
Park’s voice, though quiet in its way, is more than suited to its task, and I especially love the way he warps the lyrics to tell his own story of movement from Alberta, which is certainly the kind of thing all the heroes of the blues used to do — if more gracefully than rock acts like Led Zeppelin and even The White Stripes.
One might place Do Me Right in the supposedly “trendy” camp of postmodern blooz, but considering the Fat Possum wave of about a decade back centred on Burnside, Park brings it back to a simplified form, keeping the choppy, robotic tempo, but valuing electric and analog over digital. This guy’s good without being a show pony. - See Magazine


Riverdale Recorders may be a long way from the Mississippi Delta, but the local recording studio captured the juke-joint sounds of the South when documenting the music of local blues band Bombchan.

Drawing on the gritty crunch of pioneering bluesmen like R.L. Burnside, Mississippi Fred McDowell and Bukka White, Bombchan is a quartet of young but veteran players who are adding a fresh take to a milieu that too often embraces redundancy and less-than-average performances.

Fronted by guitarist/singer Mike Park, Bombchan has been a long time in the making for this musician who has come back to music full time, in a roundabout fashion.

An avid skateboarder, Park was introduced to the blues some 15 years ago by a tough little blues band called Frozen Toes. That group became home to a number of musicians who would go on to greener pastures with The McDades and The Rockin' Highliners. Park, through his friends, would find his own compass and discover the music of fabled bluesman Son House.

"As a young teenager, I had been part of the skateboarding punk music scene," grins Park, who a decade ago was a regular local fixture, playing coffee houses like the Sugar Bowl.

"Then I met Lester Quitzau, who really had an influence on me. I met him at my mom's health food store in Parkallen. He eventually took me on a tour, and taught me the ropes of being out on the road."

Park now works alongside guitarist Ayla Brook (AA Sound System), bassist Karie Brown (The Smalls) and drummer Grant Stovel.

Park had been working on his singer-songwriter skills, but for a while he became a sought-after skateboard park designer and builder before deciding he still had that burning desire to perform.

There's no question these young men play a form of the blues that has been neglected, and Park realizes some blues fans find the intensity a bit much to handle. But any roots music fan that has gravitated to the styles of blues that the Fat Possum label has been promoting will love the fact a band in our own backyard is now dispensing this authentic jukejoint sound.

The six-song recording, Do Me Right, includes three tunes from the Bukka White discography. Poor Little Mattie, a hard-driving R.L. Burnside tune, punched the time clock on the session that also served up a ferocious interpretation of Fred McDowell's Write Me a Few Lines.

Prepared to head back into the studio on short notice, Bombchan will be serving up some original tunes, cut from the same cloth, alongside the covers, at an album release bash tonight at The ARTery, 9535 Jasper Ave. The bill also features Hangloose and Burro. The cover charge is $5, doors open at 8 p.m. and the music starts around 9:30. - BY PETER NORTH, EDMONTON JOURNALNOVEMBER 27, 2009


Discography

Do Me Right

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Bio

With "Do Me Right", their debut album, Bombchan tips the hat to roots blues luminaries such as Bukka White, Robert Petway, Mississippi Fred McDowell and R.L. Burnside with interpretations of their songs from a fresh perspective, with honesty and such conviction it is sure to get you in the groove. Forging a sound unique to themselves Bombchan's live shows have been acclaimed as "fuzzed-out, over the top, hill country blues with a touch of metal and a ton of rock." "Do Me Right" delivers a fine balance of raw rock energy with the rhythmical punctuation and "oddities" inherent in the soulful, muddy, barrel-house blues grooves of the south. This ain't no Blues Hammer!
Recorded live off the floor (by Scott Franchuk of Riverdale Recorders in Edmonton, AB), this early snapshot in the life of Bombchan exists as testament to the undeniable chemistry and years of experience behind the individual band members. Bombchan's powerful vocal styling (vocalist/guitarist Michael B.C. Park) and relentless guitar rhythms are backed by a few of Edmonton's finest: the very prolific singer/songwriter Ayla Brook (AA Sound System) on guitar, having a forum to display the more aggressive side of his chops as he sheds the task of front-man and focuses on sheer guitar wizardry. Grant "Stovetop" Stovel (Swifty's, Pinetop Perkins, Sue Foley) is on drums, a true staple in the Edmonton community with his extensive contributions in Radio as a disc jockey (CKUA / CJSR) and to many other North American bands in need of that steady back bone rhythm; and filling out the bottom end is "Downtown" Karie Brown, a bass player with a diverse background ranging from classical, punk to country.This no non-sense band is "not one to blow smoke up yer ass but guaranteed to knock you out in one punch!"