With an assembled group of Black Hen regulars including Steve Dawson on multiple stringed instruments, Jeremy Holmes and Gary Craig handling bass and drums, and Chris Gestrin on piano and organ making up the nucleus of the band, what sets this recording apart form his previous efforts is the addition of a fully realized horn section. It was then a thrill and a pleasure when Steve brought in Jerry Cook on Baritone sax, Dominic Conway on tenor sax and Malcolm Aiken on trumpet. This truly made Big Dave's sound complete as the ensemble dug right in and recorded the album mostly live off of the floor in just a few days. On every track, Big Dave's bellowing, prairie storm of a voice conjures smoke and fire as he delivers the most impassioned performances of his career. Big Dave explains, 'You just have to be open. The Blues is a feeling, and you should play it the way you feel it.' A few well-chosen cover songs are included to complement Big Dave's original compositions on Pocket Full Of Nothin'. A gritty take of the Allman Brothers' 'Midnight Rider' and J.B. Lenoir's 'Voodoo Music' showcase McLean's interpretive skills, and no record from the prairie native would be complete without at least one song associated with Muddy Waters. This time, he treats his listeners to an impassioned take on the old Chess Records gem, 'Just To Be With You.' The release of Pocket Full Of Nothin' coincides with the thrilling announcement that Big Dave will receive an appointment to the Order of Canada award for his contributions to the nation's cultural life. He'll be in good company when he receives his medal alongside Garth Hudson of The Band to join past recipients that include such iconic musicians as Stompin' Tom Connors, Gord Downie and Gordon Lightfoot. And, when that day comes, there's be no better way to celebrate this long overdue recognition than to listen to Pocket Full Of Nothin'.
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