Gary Primich could be, when he had a mind to, a roaringly in your face harp player, and the first cut on this twofer tribute to the guy—who died in 2007 of what Wiki calls "acute heroin intoxication" (translation: OD)—Satellite Rock furiously demonstrates that with no punches pulled. He also sang with a gutsy old-timey wail and attracted a lot of fine guitar players, among them Omar Kent Dykes of Omar and the Howlers (here) who appears on a number of cuts. Like Dykes, Primich wallowed in a thick, nasty, downhome blues milieu that couldn't help but yank the listener in by both ears. The guy wrote some damn good songs as well, from the swingin' Boogie Woogie Baby to the slinky crawl of Money Habit to the steamrolling Mr. Freeze.
Ah, but he handled other's materials with supernatural adeptness as well, as in the hauntingly mournful take on Kurt Weill's September Song and a jumpin' do of Ellington's Caravan. Whether singing or playing, though, Primich poured his heart and soul into every line and measure. A new film on harmonica players, Pocket Full of Soul, places him securely in the firmament with Charlie Musselwhite, James Cotton, Kim Wilson, and a host of others. It's a distinction, a time capsule, and a momento as well as an exposition.
The Route 66-ish ambiance of Put the Hammer Down trundles on over to One Room Country Shack with its vintage, distilled, smoky backwoods sense of primal doings in the era before electric everything. This happens, in fact, every time Omar and Primich get together. The two worked with each other and climbed the ladder another rung, sparks flying, clouds gathering for a heavy downpour, swamps bubbling over in sweltering summer's heat. In the liner notes, Cathi Norton writes that Gary was one of those guys whose entire focus was to just get better and better. That's quite evident here and thus makes his death at 50 a triple regret…though I doubt the grave can hold him, and Big Gabe in the Great Beyond probably smiled a face-widening grin as he spied his new git-down partner approaching the gates.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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