Blues Revue's 20th Anniversary
Fort Wayne Blues Society

Golden Isles Shag Club

Natchel Blues Network

Detroit Blues Society

Blues Access

Real Blues

Rock & Blues News

DJ Quotes

Blues Revue

Blues Access

Rock & Blues News

Southwest Blues

Rambles Arts Magazine

 Roxy Theatre, Atlanta, GA

Blues Revue 2003

 

 

Blues Revue 20th Anniversary
Certified Blue
Reviewed By Michael Kinsman

Guitarist Forrest McDonald was long ago "certified blue" before he ever came up with that name for his latest CD.   McDonald is a highly talented blues guitar player and songwriter who has flirted with bright light for four decades, but who prefers to live quietly in Richmond, VA.

McDonald has always had a very clean approach to his guitar picking, choosing a bouncy phrasing that you might fing Dickey Betts right at home with.  This CD does nothing to hamper with his reputation as one of the best blues guitarists around that you're likely not to identify. 

Everyone has heard his work, though. It is his guitar soso on Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock And Roll" recorded in Muscle Shoals that became part of the collectie American lore when it was used in the 1983 film Risky Business.

Yet despite jamming with the like os Eddie Van Halen, Steve Perry, Bonnie Bramlett, and Johnny Winter and recording with Jimmy Reed and Bobby Womack, few people know McDonald.

McDonald write nine of the 13 songs on this CD, which features his wife, Kaylon, on vocals on 10 cuts.  From the get-go, McDonald lets his guitar lead the way on "Keeping The Blues Alive," a fast-paced boogie about traveling the countryside spreading blues wherever he goes.

His rendition of Johnny Winters "You Keep Telling Me" is full of blustery guitar licks that never cross the line from sincere to show-off.   McDonald demonstrates that a refined guitar solo can be just as powerful as one that relies on dozens of dazzling notes.

Though McDonald's guitar wrok is essential to many of these songs, his solos are always tasteful and disciplined, ending as soon as his guitar makes it's statement. It's refreshing to hear a songwriter-guitarist-producer have the restraint to make sure he never overplays on a recording.

Kaylon McDonald's vocals are workman-like, but when she sings Forrest McDonald lines such as "I walked in on my baby as he was walking out on me," she sounds as though that experience is coming straight from her life.

Sterling accompanists such as singer/harp player Jon Liebman and former Albert Collins Band saxophonist Chuck Williams make important contributions to this CD.

But Forrest McDonald's music doesn't need anyone's stamp of approval. It's "Certified Blue" through and through.

- Michael Kinsman

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Fort Wayne Blues Society

Spirit of the Blues
Reviewed By Connie Myers
Fort Wayne Blues Society

This is Forrest McDonald's fourth CD he has released. Now I know you're saying, "Who is Forrest McDonald?" That's very much like asking who Lonnie Mack is. Forrest McDonald played backup for some pretty famous people like Steve Perry of Journey, Tony Carey from Planet P and Rainbow, Bobby Womack and you can hear him playing guitar on Bob Seger's Old Time Rock and Roll.

Raymond Victor plays keyboard and is the lead vocalist. He has his own bragging list: John Lee Hooker, Mike Bloomfield, Bobby Blue Bland, Elvin Bishop, and Charlie Musselwhite.

The rest of his band consists of Diane Dutra on bass guitar.oh yea lady bass player, Chuck "CAP" Capdeville, known as Mr. Metronome, and David Parnell, who has a little bragging to do after playing with David T. Walker, David McCracken, and The Coasters.

I have listened to this CD many times. The liquid, grinding, If You Don't Really Love Me made me envision dirty dancers undulating on a dark, smoky dance floor somewhere in bluestown USA. I had to get up and do the Stroll. WHAT!!! The Stroll?? Holy Cow!! Now everyone knows how old I am! This album covers it all. Good jump blues to ice smooth dirty blues. I hate the idea that I will be raffling this CD at the block party September 18. I may have to stalk whoever wins it. I loaned it to my brother who is a much harsher critic than I am and he gave it a grin and a nod, his sign of approval. Skip Calvin said, "It's better than most out today."

Forrest McDonald and the 3D Blues Band is currently receiving airplay on 175 radio programs in the USA. His Hard To Lose video is available nationwide. Other albums by Forrest McDonald and the 3D Blues Band are: I Need You, On Fire, Under the Gun. If you are looking for blues that won't wear you out with flash and dash and confusing guitar workings, if you are looking for good, straight up blues that will cool you out, I recommend this CD.

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Golden Isles Shag Club

Spirit of the Blues
Reviewed By Michael Roberts
Golden Isles Shag Club

I received this album from a pop jock friend of mine who knows good music when he hears it. His words to me were "I think this is something that you will like". Like! I think that Forrest is a true undiscovered STAR. Containing thirteen cuts Forrest displays his vocal and guitar skills in the areas of Shuffle Blues, Jump Blues and the traditional Blues Ballad. Yes, sir there really is something here for Swing EC / WC & Shag Jocks as well as dancers of either style.

Tracks 5, 9,10, & 12 are great up tempo shuffles in the 120 to 124 BPM range that true blues lovers who shag or EC Swing will be moving to for some time to come. For you WC Swing folks let me say that cut one is a wonderful example of what makes you move. An example of a good solid ballad would be the Track entitled "Take me to the Country". One listen to this will do just that, all you need is a jug of Hard Apple Cider or maybe a mason jar of liquid fire and you'll be back to those roots you sometimes forget in the midst of today's hustle and bustle.

Where does this gem rank on the "Ole, Give It To Mikey, He'll Play it Scale?" This one deserves nothing less that a stone cold A! I hate to give such a high rating on my first exposure to a group but when it's deserved….what else can you do.

Availability on this one may be a little difficult. At this time I know of only ONE specialty shop that has any in stock. That is "Judy's House of Oldies" in North Myrtle Beach, SC. Call (843-249-8649). She'll ship it to you. If she happens to be out you call also contact the folks at "World Talent Records" (770-931-8116) I'm sure they will be happy to sell you a copy.

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Natchel Blues Network
 

Spirit of the Blues
Reviewed By John Hathaway
Natchel Blues Network

This CD grabs you from the very first chord of "That's My Baby," and doesn't let your attention waver until the last note of "Rock This House" is dripping from your speakers!

Their fourth release together, McDonald teams up with his long time partner Raymond Victor, along with "Cap" Capdeville on Drums, Diane Dutra on Bass, and Dave Parnell on Saxophone, to take the listener on an hour plus long journey through some great traditional feeling down and dirty blues.

Victor's voice has that guttural, kind of nasty feeling-one that tells you "blues are in the house," and is complemented by his awesome work on piano. McDonald's stinging guitar solos reach out of the speakers and grab you by the ears, forcing you to appreciate the beauty of his skills. Parnell's horn work (and the mixing) is so good it feels like a whole section up there.

All told, this group melds their talents wonderfully to bring us a great new blues CD! Favorite cuts on this thirteen track compilation are: "People I'm Hurting," "Cry No More," "Ride My Buggy," "Hard To Lose," and "If You Don't Really Love Me," but with each listen I add another cut!

 

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Detroit Blues Society
 

World Talent Records: 42253-2
Reviewed By Wolfgang Spider
Detroit Blues Society

The bluesy guitar lines of Forrest McDonald compliment the lusty vocals and keyboard work of Raymond Victor to provide a great party set. This album has that "let's have fun" feel to every track.

They open with "That's My Baby" featuring Victor's keyboard and vocals in an upbeat song which sets the stage for all to follow. A medium speed blues called "Anchor to a Drowning Man" follows with great blues guitar and a solid beat. So as not to repeat myself too many times let's just say that all the tracks have exceptional performances on guitar, vocals, and keyboards.

Working behind McDonald and Victor are Chuck "Cap" Cap Deville on drums, Diane Dutra on 5 string bass and Dave Parnell on tenor saxophone. Victor has backed John Lee Hooker, Bobby Blue Bland, Mike Bloomfield and Charlie Musselwhite. McDonald has worked with Bob Seger, Bobby Womack and many others. These are seasoned musicians and it shows in their recordings.

The CD includes slow blues on "Texas", "People I'm Hurting", "If You Don't Really Love Me", and "Take me to the Country". These are balanced with medium and up-tempo tracks such as "Love Me In The Morning", "Cry No More", "Ride My Buggy", Lazy Old Woman" and "Whiskey". It is hard to pick my favorite song. I liked them all. The guitar work on "Hard to Lose" and the piano work on "Whiskey" make these strong candidates. How would you expect a blues party set to conclude? With a bluesy rocker of course and "Rock This House" fills that bill. I love this CD. It rocks the blues and makes me feel good.

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Blues Access
 

Spirit of the Blues
Reviewed By Blues Access

Guitar-based blues at its best here on tunes like "Anchor to a Drowning Man" and "Texas." McDonald is a really fine guitarist in the T-Bone Walker mold, and for all you gear-heads, the liner notes detail the guitar, amp and settings for every tune.

 

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Real Blues
 

Spirit of the Blues
Reviewed By Andy Grigg
Real Blues

Here is a CD that has all the tasteful deejays whoopin' and hoolerin' and it only takes track 1, "That's My Baby," to hear why. This is the 'cat's ass' as they say. It is a pure Southern, good time, easy rockin' blues and is as pleasurable experience as it gets.

The Blues fans down in Georgia have been spoiled by Forrest and company for quite some time, and man oh man, when I listen to these guys, I'm wishing I could be at a table close to the stage and dance floor where they would be rockin'. This band is what a great bar room blues band should sound like. Dance floor friendly and guaranteed to make you forget your troubles in a very short period of time.

A super talented and cohesive unit like this really should be much wider known. I'm not sure if they tour outside of Georgia, but they can easily play rings around a lot of bands who wear 'star' status. McDonald is a very tasty guitarist of the 'less is more' school and he makes every note count. Lead vocalist/keyboardist Raymond Victor roars up a storm and is totally natural. Exceptional sax work from veteran Dave Parnell makes every track extra sweet of an experience and Diane Dutra lays down the perfect Fender bass bottom - some of the best blues bassists are women.

This CD will be on your player for an extended period of time if you like to do the 'livingroom boogie' (I sure do). 5 bottles for a great disc from a hot band. Check them out! 

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Rock & Blues News
 

Spirit of the Blues
Reviewed By Rock & Blues News

From piano-dominated, bouncy swing numbers ("That's My Baby") to guitar/sax-centered blues ("Anchor to a Drowning Man"), Forrest McDonald's quintet sizzles. Lead vocals by Raymond Victor are remarkable, as is his keyboard work throughout this session. "Texas," the third cut on this 13 song set, combines Robert Cray-type lyrics with powerful guitar licks reminiscent of Albert Collins. Wow! The tenor sax honking and musings of Dave Parnell are distinctive; the five-string bass work of Diane Dutra is solid; and the percussion magic of Chuck "Mr. Metronome" Capdeville is electric.

The performing maturity and clarity of this group, coupled with the lyrical rhythmic genius of Texas-born McDonald, make this fine production a can't miss recording. ~ Cooper

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Blues Revue
 

Finger Lickin' Blues
Reviewed By Blues Revue December 2001

Journeyman guitarist Forrest McDonald and veteran vocalist and pianist Raymond Victor blend elements of vintage Chicago and Texas blues with elements of soul, R&B and funk. Victor is a blues singer with depth. Over the years this duo has performed with such luminaries as John Lee Hooker, Luther Tucker, Charlie Musselwhite, Bobby Womack, and Bobby "Blue" Bland. The disc’s version of “Ode to Billy Joe” is by itself worth the price of admission: this one is a crowning achievement. Finger Lickin’ Blues covers a lot of ground and Forrest McDonald mixes his ingredients well. Bob Margolin’s haunting slide guitar, spooking along behind the verse, should send chills up the spine of any blues aficionado. McDonald’s sparse, understated rhythm guitar here is mesmerizing. There could be no better proof that less is more.

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Blues Access,  December 2001
 

Finger Lickin' Blues
Reviewed By Blues Access

This Atlanta-based journeyman has hot licks to spare and they come down fast and furious. McDonald’s flat out Southern style of wailing is ably supported by a tight band featuring Raymond Victor’s excellent vocals and keyboard work. Lovers of white hot guitar will not be disappointed.

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Southwest Blues
 

Whats it gonna take?

Reviewed By Southwest Blues, November 2000

Extraordinary musicianship! McDonald’s glowing guitar teamed with Victor’s whiskey-drenched gutter voice, exceptional piano work and strong songwriting is a winning combination. Where have these guys been hiding?

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Rock & Blues News
 

Whats it gonna take?
Reviewed By Rock & Blues News

Forrest McDonald’s quintet sizzles with great traditional feeling and down and dirty blues. Raymond Victor’s voice has that guttural kind of nasty feeling that tells you the “blues are in the house” and is complemented by his awesome work on pianos. Dave Parnell’s horn work sounds so good it feels like a whole section. The five string bass work of Diane Dutra is very solid; and the percussive magic of Chuck Cap Deville is electric. The performing maturity and clarity of this group, coupled with the lyrical - rhythmic genius of Texas-born McDonald, make them a band not to be missed. ~ Cooper

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The Lilburn Courier
 

Forrest McDonald at the Roxy Theatre, Atlanta, GA"

Reviewed By By Kevin J. Moran, September 21, 2002

Blues guitarist Forrest McDonald still doing things “his way”

By Kevin J. Moran

"Total fun!" That's what Lilburnite Forrest McDonald says when I ask him to describe his blues band’s sizzling performance at the Roxy in Buckhead on Saturday night, Sept. 21, 2002, as the opening act for blues legend Bo Diddley. Forrest and I are standing together in the lobby of the Roxy just minutes after he walked off stage and he's there to autograph copies of his CD's and mingle with his ever-increasing fan base. He says the Roxy is a "fabulous" place to play and he can't say enough good things about his fans. As I soon find out, his fans can't say enough good things about him either. One by one, fans of all ages, from budding teenage guitarists to middle aged couples, come up to Forrest and tell him how much they have enjoyed his music over the years and how much they enjoyed his live set tonight. Many fans just want a chance to meet this local guitar hero who's also a nationwide blues celebrity, a hometown boy who's made good in the rough and tumble world of professional music. One teenage kid actually brought his own guitar to the show and asks Forrest to sign it. Forrest patiently signs every autograph and takes the time to chat with each fan - not about himself but about them, asking their name, where they're from, what they do for a living. He thanks every one of them for coming to the show and for their loyalty over his 38-year career. In a world of rock star prima donnas, Forrest is a refreshing presence; it's almost impossible not to like this guy!

Despite his disarming off-stage presence, Forrest's musical prowess is anything but easygoing. He plays blues guitar with an intensity and a passion that fills both knowledgeable and novice blues fans with excitement and leaves even experienced guitarists in awe of his playing ability. Listen to any of his CD's or attend one of his live shows and you'll hear his blistering guitar work overlaying traditional blues rhythms with a range of tempos, from slow heart-wrenching Texas blues reminiscent of blues originals like T-Bone Walker, to the more modern hard driving rock-blues mix of Jonny Lang and the late Stevie Ray Vaughan. During their 50-minute set at the Roxy, Forrest and his band played a range of blues selections from several of his recordings. The members of his band (the line-up at the Roxy included Andrew Black (another blues guitar virtuoso) on guitar and lead vocals, bassist Steve Mays and drummer Duke "Blues" Kelly) are all seasoned blues veterans and have been playing with Forrest for years and their long-term relationship has resulted in a nearly flawless kind of musical teamwork. Critics have hailed Forrest as one of the greatest blues guitarists of the day and his band has been voted "Best Southern Blues Band" by Real Blues Magazine in 1999, 2000 and 2001. In 2001, Forrest himself was voted "Best Southern Blues Guitarist" by the magazine as well.

Originally from Austin, Texas, Forrest grew up in a musical family. His grandparents both played music; his grandmother was among the first women to graduate from a music college and played and studied music her entire life until she died at age 101. His mother was a singer and also played acoustic guitar. His dad had an extensive record collection and that was how Forrest first discovered the blues, listening to T-Bone Walker albums as well as recordings by Muddy Waters and Sonny Boy Williamson. Then, at age 9, Forrest saw bluesman Josh White perform in concert. From that moment on, he was hooked on the blues. When he was just 14, he hitchhiked his way to New York City and spent time in Greenwich Village where he saw the great blues legends Muddy Waters and Mose Allison in concert. Shortly after that, Forrest took up the guitar. He took six months of guitar lessons and then taught himself blues guitar the rest of the way. Thirty-eight years ago, on New Year's Eve 1965, Forrest started his first band; he's been having "total fun" ever since.

But while music and the blues may have been a passionate pastime in the McDonald family, it was still a unique career choice for Forrest. His father is a renowned history professor at the University of Alabama and a leading American constitutional scholar who devised a new way of looking at the history of the U.S. Constitution by going back and reading the original documents that made up the framework for what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they wrote the document that still governs America after more than 200 years. When I ask Forrest why his career path to blues music differed so much from his father's career in academia, Forrest credits his father's attitude of open thinking. "My dad always told me to do what I wanted to do. He just said 'whatever you do, be the best'. And I just wanted to do things my way."

That attitude of doing things "his way" appears to have served Forrest well, especially in the last several years. He started his own record label, World Talent Records (based in Lilburn), to sell his music, the determined underdog going against the grain of the big record labels. Now 52, he spends a considerable amount of time as a tireless promoter of the blues and helping support the careers of fellow blues musicians. He's a very active member of several blues music organizations including the Atlanta Blues Society. Each year, his band plays a dozen or so major blues festivals at various venues across the country. He spends his free time in Lilburn with his wife, Debbie, and their 10-year-old son.

Despite his guitar wizardry and his business savvy, Forrest remains modest. When I ask him how a "master blues guitarist" ended up in Lilburn as opposed to a more traditional blues haven like Memphis or Chicago, he avoids my geography question altogether. Instead, he says. "Master blues guitarist in Lilburn? Well, when I run into him, I'll let you know!"

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Blues Revue Magazine
 

Forrest McDonald ~ Live

Reviewed By Michael Cote,   Feb/Mar 2003

For an album recorded on the fly, Live packs a mean punch. Though it captures a performance before a festival crowd, what it delivers is the sound you’d like to hear if you wandered into an out-of-town bar, and sat down to hear a blues band you’d never before encountered. Atlanta-based guitarist (and Austin, Texas, native) Forrest McDonald is the top billed performer, but this is clearly the work of an ensemble, featuring lead singer and piano player Raymond Victor - McDonald’s musical partner for three decades now - as well as second guitarist and singer Andrew Black, and the 3D Blues Band rhythm section of Jonathan Schwenke on bass and John McKnight on drums. McDonald’s guitar grabs much of the spotlight, but it’s Victor’s growl that initially commands attention: His rough-hewn voice, full of character, lends a distinctive touch to a batch of songs that adhere to familiar blues themes. It kicks off with “Anchor to a Drowning Man,” which includes a bit of feedback you might expect from an album mixed directly from the house sound system. But the warts and all approach offers a portrait of a road band that knows how to play to the crowd. Most of the songs come from the school of good-humored hard-lick blues; Victor introduces “Work Work” as a song about his second marriage and “Boogie Me ‘tilI drop” as a song about his third marriage. In addition to his playful singing, which can drop into Howlin’ Wolf territory, he’s got a boogie-woogie blues piano style honed from years of playing. McDonald’s clean, smoking leads offer plenty of flash, but he never gets overly indulgent. McKnight gets to play front man when he handles lead vocals on a cover of Wolf’s “Who’s Been Talking.” Let’s have some full disclosure: I had never heard these guys before. Now, I’m hoping they get to my town sometime soon.

MICHAEL COTE

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DJ Quotes Reviews

 

What the Blue J's are saying about Forrest:

When I hear Forrest's music, I get goose bumps on my arms. That passes my test.
Black Jack Ketchum, Good Morning Blues, WRFG ~ Atlanta, GA

Look for Spirit of The Blues on our playlists.
Cornbread, The Chicago Blues X-plosion, WJKL ~ Chicago, IL

We are playing all 13 tracks.
WQOX ~ Memphis, TN

We're playing this one! Send us another copy.
WPEB ~ Philadelphia, PA

I'm spinning Take Me To The Country on Guitar 

Mac's Blues Express. KCBL ~ Sacramento, CA

Spirit Of The Blues is doing so well, it's crossed over into other formats. You're getting lots of airplay. 

Fred Hawley, Rollin' With The Blues, KMXT ~ Kodiak, AK

We love Forrest's music here in Duluth. He's getting tons of airplay.
John Ziegler, KUMD ~ Duluth, MN

We're playing all tracks. This is a great CD!
Bob Carrol, KSRN ~ Reno, NV

This CD is much appreciated, thanks! ...... Blues After Hours.
Andy Musick, KANZ ~ Garden City, KS

We love this CD! It's in heavy rotation. Where have these guys been hiding?
WISU ~ Terre Haute, IN

We are playing Forrest on Blue Sunday. We really like this CD and will be playing a lot of the tracks.
Dave Marino, WZGC ~ Atlanta, GA

I like this CD quite a lot! Best of luck with this new release.
Stan Ruffo, Blues On Tap ~ World Wide on Broadcast.com

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(C) 2002