Review of “Mr. C. & The C-Notes” by Terry Parsons – Maple Blues Magazine – May 2021
This album is one of those marvellous moments in history that come about purely by chance, only every now and then. The live show was recorded at Wally's Tavern, in Guelph, Ontario, sometime in the late 1990's. (The actual date cannot be confirmed) The recording was lost for almost a quarter century until Mike McDonald found it, and passed it on to Jim Casson, who cleaned it up and prepared it for release.
It features Chuck Jackson and members of the Downchild Blues band, notably Pat Carey on Horns and the late Michael Fonfara on Piano and Keyboards. In fact, the album is dedicated to Fonfara, with all proceeds from sales being donated to The Canadian Cancer Society, in his memory. Garth Vogan (Bass) and Jim Casson (Drums) round out the line-up for this lively and diverse set.
A typical live show for the time, the set consisted almost entirely of covers, masterfully performed, including a delight mix of blues, R&B, jazz and good old Rock ‘n’ Roll. The album opens with a wonderfully up beat version of the classic "Pennies from Heaven", followed by an equally perky cover of Chuck Berry's "C’est La Vie". The next two cuts, "Hide & Seek" and "My Baby Just Cares For Me", features the killer duo of Pat Carey's powerhouse sax and Fonfara's brilliant piano; a treat for true fans. Up next is a mind-blowing cover of the Doors classic, "Riders on the Storm". An ambitious cover of a rock classic that might seem out of place performed by a blues band, but in this set, it is right at home. Still, they are a blues band, and the next two cuts are true blues classics, in "My Blue Heaven" and "Kansas City". Then the album turns back to rock with a cool adaptation of the Beatles classic "Lady Madonna." Chuck Jackson is at home in any genre, but when it comes to "Fly Me To The Moon" and "Night Train", it’s like coming home to the familiar, warm and well loved. The set ends with "I Ain't Got Nobody", a fitting end to a show that happened in a different century, a different place in our musical collective, and yet, feels so at home in the new reality.