Mia Vermillion has a big vocal presence. She sings with the wild abandon of Janis Joplin controlled by the fluid precision of Bonnie Bramlett, the gusto of Big Mama Thornton, and the blues foundation of Bessie Smith. She infuses her singing with more humidity than Ma Rainey and more sex than Lena Horne.
Tacitly a blues singer, Vermillion's repertoire on Alone Together with the Blues is more diverse than the straight 12-bar variety. Joined by master slide guitarist Orville Johnson, Vermillion weaves a tapestry of folk music that extrapolates the similar attempts of Cassandra Wilson to their logical pinnacle. Johnson provides an earthy, organic bottom to this collection of nine songs with his dobro, guitar, and mandolin, directly impacting Vermillion's approach to the songs.
On Lil Green's "In the Dark," Johnson flat-picks the guitar while Vermillion expounds on pheromones with the lights out. Vermillon's original, "Love's Lost and Found," couples Johnson on electric rhythm and dobro, supporting a languid Vermillion singing, "Come on boys, I'm one of those girls everybody knows, where my dreams are like paper, boy how I'm shuffled around..."
The recording turns on two obscure classic blues, Leroy Carr's "In The Evening," and "When I've Been Drinkin'" by Big Bill Broonzy. "In The Evening" was a staple of the Carr-Blackwell songbook in the 1930s, and 80 years later, Johnson and Vermillion freshen it up to the point it can be compared to its cousin composition, "St. Louis Blues." "When I've Been Drinkin'" hosts Johnson's best dobro playing of the disc as Vermillion, subdued, sings with the reticence of the inebriated.
Vermillion is a fresh and welcome arrival on the blues (and jazz) scene. The full depth of her talent has yet to be seen.
Track Listing: Little Bit of Love; In the Dark; Loves Lost and Found; In The Evening; When I've Been Drinking; I'm Going to Copyright Your Kisses; I Wonder; Walkin'; Two Cigarettes in the Dark.
Personnel: Mia Vermillion: vocals; Orville Johnson: dobro, guitar, mandolin; Chuck Deardorf, Garey Shelton, Cary Black: bass; Ben Smith, Mark Ivester: drums and percussion; Hans Teuber: clarinet.
Year Released: 2009
| Record Label: Self Produced
| Style: Blues
I met Erroll Garner at The Theatrical Grill in Cleveland a few hours before our family was to see him on stage at Severance Hall. That was 45 years ago and I was only 15! I spotted him nearby in a booth wearing a beautiful tux with a great white napkin draped over him! I was a little nervous as I approached him (he was eating shrimp cocktail) and said, Mr
I met Erroll Garner at The Theatrical Grill in Cleveland a few hours before our family was to see him on stage at Severance Hall. That was 45 years ago and I was only 15! I spotted him nearby in a booth wearing a beautiful tux with a great white napkin draped over him! I was a little nervous as I approached him (he was eating shrimp cocktail) and said, Mr. Garner, I love playing the piano... is there any advice you could give me?'' He hesitated, then looked back at me and said, Keep playin' and don't stop!'' That was great advice because at 60 years old, I'm still playin' and haven't stopped!