Kiwi blues can at times be an oxymoron. Anything missing the spirit of its North American home is going to lack much of what has made the blues so great. On ‘Ghost Dance’, The Gary Harvey Band not only wear these influences proudly on their sleeve, but wave the flag high for the blues revival, combing boogie woogie, hard rock and delta blues as if the ’70s never ended. Formed by Harvey in 1996, on his return from Texas, they have well and truly become veterans of the scene with two earlier album releases in 1999 (‘Bootleg Boogie’) and 2005 (‘For What It’s Worth’).
Mixing influences from Led Zeppelin to Tom Petty, the Auckland-based trio features Harvey providing vocals and bass, Tony Abbot playing guitars and Mike Beck on drums. Songs like Don’t Lie To Me and Ground Zero celebrate southern rock, calling to mind The Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd. “Out on Highway 61, crossroad meet and the deal is done,” Harvey bellows on the latter, his voice eerily echoing the point home over Abbot’s delta slide, a soundscape as vast as the road itself.
Recorded at The Manor and Basement studios in Auckland with production by Anthony Corban, mastered by Simon Lynch and Zorran Mendonsa, there are countless stand out moments on offer – including the collaborations with Andy ‘Stray Falcon‘ Renata and Erica Sunshine Lee. Promised Land and Boss Mama see the band push its hard driving rock’n’roll into heavier terrain, showing that these older players are far from exploring the breadth of their influences. Youngsters take note.