Harmonica Player Grant Dermody Adds Zydeco Flavor to Chicago Blues on ‘My Dony’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Portrait of Grant Dermody with harmonica.

Grant Dermody is a prolific harmonica player who mainly plays blues, but also branches into other genres like bluegrass. He has recorded with artists like Eric Bibb and Cedric Watson. He has also released three solo albums, and three with bands.

Of the new album My Dony, he says, “The new album is pretty much straight-up Chicago blues. There’s some gospel and zydeco…”  

In fact, the album contains a fair amount of zydeco sounds thanks to Corey Ledet’s work on the accordion. The second song on the album is “One Step at a Time”, and it is a blues-zydeco jam. The harmonica and accordion work very well together while the rhythm section makes this an easy song for dancing – as most zydeco songs are. Another song with some zydeco influence is “Real Time Man”, which sounds like what might happen if ZZ Top added an accordion.

Dermody’s immersion in Chicago blues is obvious whether it’s a groove that could just as easily be found in a Junior Wells tune or some howled vocals. With other songs like “Too Late To Change Your Mind”, it’s easy to imagine the band playing it in the corner of an old roadside barbecue restaurant. Of course, it wouldn’t be a complete blues album if it didn’t have one good song for slow dancing. “I Can’t Turn Back Time” is the one. The guitar and harmonica (at least until the harmonica solo) are pretty muted on this song while the rhythm section lays down the perfect part to get couples slow dancing.

The real change of pace on this album is “Great Change”. This is the gospel song, and the interesting thing about it the rhythm section and piano lend the feel of a soulful gospel tune while the banjo, guitar, and harmonica make it feel more like a bluegrass gospel song.

This album shows Dermody’s tremendous grasp of the blues. His tone is always spot on for the song, and you can’t help but appreciate his prowess with his instrument. The zydeco flavor running throughout the album makes it great for dancing, and that is something to be appreciated also. If you are a fan of Chicago blues, you will no doubt enjoy this album. Just do yourself a favor and make sure the volume is turned up.

Photo credit: Marco Prozzo

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