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Nick Vigarino/Kathi Macdonald: The Ghost of Time

Two ragged-edged veterans make for one raw, emotional, rocking and just-plain-fun blues experience on The Ghost of Time (Merrimack Records MR 10106; 64:45). Guitarist-vocalist Nick Vigarino and growling blues diva Kathi McDonald (a former “Ikette” with Ike and Tina Turner) are the headliners in this brazen cavalcade, which offers treats ranging from bass-pumped, funky swamp blues (an old fashioned sex/food allegory “Earl’s Gumbo”) to acoustic piano-driven classic jazz (a straight-from-the-heart, disarmingly soulful read of “God Bless the Child”). Highlights include the rockin’ dobro-driven rager “Letting a Good Man Go,” which recalls Bonnie Raitt in wilder days, and the elegant twilight-blue ballad, “Baby You Know I Love You,” which finds McDonald building in vocal intensity to a soul-stripping wail. The marquee talents are breathtaking Vigarino’s guitar masterwork (particularly on dobro and slide) ignites tunes like “Louisiana Breakdown,” and his baritone vocals range from world-weary John Doe (of X) to soulful Delbert McClinton. McDonald’s voice is a trembling growler with a Janis Joplin-like raging emotion. When she sings with rock venom (on “Yardbird”), “they call me the yardbird cause I’m leavin’ today,” you get the feeling she could walk right over just about anyone. The final mystery of The Ghost of Time is why these two awesome talents aren’t more well-known in the mainstream. Pick up this barnburner and you won’t be disappointed.

Originally Published