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Monica Dupont - Life Goes On

Modern Blues Records

10 songs; 35:57 minutes; Suggested

Styles: modern electric blues, no rock

If “honesty is the best policy,” then, honestly, I had never heard of California’s Monica Dupont until I was sent this CD. In doing some background research, I came across this quote by Ralph J. Gleason, “Monica sings like Muddy Waters and looks like Mary Tyler-Moore.”

Since literally everyone has a unique voice sound, is it possible for some people’s voices to be “more unique” than others? In Monica’s case, “yes!” If ever there was a voice made to sing the blues, she has one.

This blues singer/songwriter returns after a 25 year absence from music, at the age of 60, with an album of diverse and rewarding modern blues! Her seven original songs and three covers showcase that powerful, unique vocal style.

While on the Oakland blues scene from 1975 to 1983, she played all of the blues venues in the Bay Area scene. Her band was the only Blues band chosen by BAM magazine to play at the historical "Rock against Racism." When not fronting her own band, she was regularly hired as a sideman (or side-woman in this case). In her career, she fronted bands led by such blues greats as Mel Brown and Luther Tucker. Dupont recorded several notable records, including, "Try To Find Another Man" and "Screamin' For My Freedom." She was also a respected songwriter for many local musicians, like "Lamb" and Janis Joplin.

Monica stopped playing music in 1983 at the height of her career, when she suffered a stroke.
Following eight months of grueling therapy, Monica moved to Los Angeles and became a successful television writer and show host, as well as creating and publishing a book of art and poetry titled "Windows."

In 2004, after having returned to San Francisco, some of her early recordings were re-released on a CD called "Early Eighties" on Hoddyman Records, and Monica started getting airplay all over the world, as well as receiving favorable reviews and fan letters. Encouraged by this, she called old music friends and asked them to record a CD with her. All of the great musicians on this result are connected to her from the "old days" of Oakland Blues. Monica sings on each track and adds rhythm guitar on most, and producer Gary Novak adds a mixture of drums, bass, piano, guitar, organ, and background vocals to all tracks but one live number.

To open the set, Dupont performs a jumping classic from JB Hutto, “Too Much Alcohol.” “Wolfie” Wichter creates the opening notes on harmonica soon followed by Jimi James on lead guitar. At 20 seconds in, we hear this incredible voice. When you get this album and play it for a friend, DO NOT tell them anything before popping it in. I guarantee there will be immediate questions. Microwave Dave adds some tasty slide guitar, but it is just left in the mix with no solo – too bad.

Slowing the tempo slightly, Monica sings her own, greasy “Sittin’ Around” with Mr. Harmonica “Blowout” Mark Hummel taking a nice mid-song solo. Shawnka Shepard adds to the rhythm on piano.

“A Bigger Place” proves this band can swing, too, with the help of Bobbie Webb on saxophone. The song reflects that it is American to be excessive – especially in our accumulation of “stuff.” Where else in the world do people need either a “bigger place” or a rental storage unit?

For upbeat dancing, try the boogie shuffle, “Shakin’ the Sheets.” The most surprising number is Johnny Preston’s 1950s Native-American-love-denied hit (written by JP Richardson) “Running Bear” in which Bobby Young is on board for lead guitar. For a Delta Blues duo track, Ron Thompson slides the steel on the only live cut, “The Man From New Orleans.”

Easing on over to the jazzy side of blues, “Mr. Cool” finds Blaine Hoopes on saxophone, Buzzy Linhart on vibes, and Kenneth Nash on percussion. This song is so cool that it just might be the answer to global warming.

The final cut is the title track, a slow reflective number dripping with heart rending emotion, “...I played a losing game, but Life Goes On, just the same.”

Blues fans take note: this album is real-deal and well worthy of your attention. Honest, I wouldn’t lie!

Reviewer James “Skyy Dobro” Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show “Friends of the Blues” can be heard each Thursday from 4:30 – 6:00pm on WKCC 91.1 FM in Kankakee, IL

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