Ben Hunter, Phil Wiggins and Joe Seamons – A Black and Tan Ball

Album Review | Self Release | Review by Liam Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5

Kicking off with a languorously climbing harmonica, fiddle and guitar and a song about creatively murdering a disloyal friend, A Black & Tan Ball presents thirteen tracks that dive back into American musical history with equal authenticity and good humour. Building on the success of their stint as a duo, multi-instrumentalists Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons are joined here by renowned harmonica wizard Phil Wiggins. And when Wiggins’s tongue isn’t licking at an impressively agile harmonica on instrumentals such as the traditional “Shanghai Rooster & The Dominicker Hen” and the perky Guitar Rag, it’s pressed firmly into cheek for such novelty jazz and blues ditties as “How’m I Doin’” and the aforementioned “Do You Call That a Buddy”, a song which features perhaps the best and most subtle musical reference to hurling someone out of a window. Whilst the album is drenched in old-time wit and mischief, Hunter, Wiggins and Seamons never stray from their serious esteem for antique Americana and jazz classics such as Ellington’s “Do Nothing Til You Hear From Me” and Louis Armstrong’s “Struttin’ With Some Barbeque”. Other highlights include a delectable version of the traditional folk song “John Henry”, complete with wonderfully resonant banjo, as well as a mandolin-led rendering of Leadbelly’s “Poor Howard”, both featuring high lonesome vocals that add yet more texture to the fine musicianship at play on this riveting record.