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The Traditional Delta and Country Blues

Tom Shaka – Sweet & Mean | Album Review

Tom Shaka - Sweet & Mean
14 songs – 73 minutes

by MARTY GUNTHER. Anyone who’s familiar with acoustic bluesman Tom Shaka knows he’s no shrinking violet when it comes to expressing his political views and desire to expose the hypocrisy he sees in governments around the world. The 15 previous albums he’s released in a 40-plus-year career are chockful of pointed and often humorous personal observations. But most of that is toned down somewhat and restricted primarily to the liner notes for Sweet & Mean, his first live recording in 20 years. A combination of tasty originals and interesting covers, it was captured before a small, but appreciative audience at Zum Schwarzen Ross, a club in Bookholzberg, Germany, a land he’s called home for decades. A Connecticut native who’s worked extensively with John Lee Hooker, Louisiana Red and David “Honeyboy” Edwards among others, Shaka delivers blues from the root in a powerful, yet subtle style all his own as he accompanies himself on guitar and harmonica, accented by occasional foot stomps. He’s a master picker with an unrushed technique, his pleasantly road weary and sweet where it needs to be. READ MORE