Canadian Blues Master Manitoba Hal Delivers 15th Album — Vintage Blend

Article Contributed by Eric Alper | Published on Saturday, November 23, 2019

Canadian blues music renaissance man Manitoba Hal has thumbed through his 15+ year career archive to release this, his newest album, Vintage Blend — available now!

The 11-track release pulls from the Shelburne, Nova Scotia-based artist’s earliest years in Winnipeg, reinventing, reimagining and rearranging them for cigar box guitar, ukulele, slide guitar and Hal’s ’57 license plate piece o’beauty. Together, they combine his rich, lyrical tapestries with the clear and uncomplicated tone of homemade, ‘front porch’ instruments.

“The album begins with my first ukulele,” Hal offers, describing his 1955 Martin. “My grandfather gave it to me on the condition that I learn to play it.

“I did, and it changed everything.”

Whether on four strings or six, Manitoba Hal is one of Canada’s most versatile, engaging, expressive and down-to-earth blues artists. With 14 recordings under his own name and appearances on countless others, guitarist, ukulele master and singer-songwriter Manitoba Hal is nationally known for his baritone voice and mastery of his instrument.

A skilled storyteller and prolific songwriter through and through, Manitoba Hal takes audiences from the deep south to the islands with songs that are mournful, hopeful, silly, romantic, and introspective.

Vintage Blend lands in line.

Album preview releases included “A Night Like This” — “that’s about a lonely night in a graveyard, longing for lost love,” Hal explains — and “Wake Up Jake,” an instrumental track inspired by a breakfast shop in Barkerville, British Columbia. “The restaurant is said to be named for a miner,” he continues. “He’d order breakfast and then fall asleep at the table. They’d have to wake him up to eat.”

Now that Vintage Blend is available in its entirety, audiences can amble up to the sonic smorgasbord for a little folk, a little blues, and a little rock n’ roll for good measure.

The rest of the album includes “Paradise,” written in the midst of a Winnipeg winter, dreaming of warmer days and sandy shores, plus “King Of The World,” “30 Odd Days,” “Poulet Shack,” “A Thousand Miles of Blacktop,” “Cost Of The Blues,” “Love Carries On”…

“This Condition” is Hal’s take on the classic Christmas story, save for the fact that Mary is arrested for shoplifting and Jesus is hauled away in handcuffs. “There are barstool prophets and angles for hire and three wise drifters by the oil can fire,” he says of the song. “They proclaim only God could love a child in this condition.”

“Last Transmission” is fitting in its title, being the final track on Vintage Blend. It’s a quiet story delivered with the sound of song birds singing outside studio window. “We had a hard time convincing them to open the window and place a mic there for the session,” Hal recalls. “But, we did! The last sounds are those birds singing and the wind rustling in the trees.”

Vintage Blend is available now.

Tour Dates:

November 23 @ Garafraxa Cafe, Durham ON

November 24 @ Part Deux House Concert, Ottawa ON

November 27 @ Moonshine Cafe, Oakville ON

November 28 @ London Music Club, London ON

November 29 @ Cameron House, Toronto ON

November 30 @ Batstone's Northern Ramble, Renfrew ON

December 1 @ Beau's Brewery, Vankleek Hill ON

December 2 @ Smoke Meat Petes, L'Ile-Perrot QC

December 4 @ House Concert, Perth-Andover NB