Manhattan To Memphis
Red House (Box 4044, St. Paul, MN 55104), RHR09
Donohue, a guitarist/songwriter who won the national Fingerpicking Championship at Winfield in 1983, offers one of the most promising debut LPs to come along in recent memory. Technique-wise, he’s a skillful picker who can swing, strut, slink, and scamper through his tunes. As a vocalist and writer, he calls to mind people like Dakota Dave Hull & Sean Blackburn at their best; but cuts like his "Midnight Man" are compellingly original. Donohue could become a major artist in contemporary acoustic music. Nice, understated backup work and fine arrangements are another plus, and Tim O’Brien guests on the Charlie Christian/Benny Goodman instrumental "Breakfast Feud."
combination of swing and blues, with a twist of jazz flavor, featuring Donohue’s skillful guitar fingerpicking (which recently won him the National Fingerpicking Championship in Kansas). The playing throughout is clear and sure, with covers of Benny Goodman and Charlie Christian, Jelly Roll Morton, and Sonny Rollins interspersed with originals, such as "Midnight Man" and "Blue Train," which are the emotional highlights of the album. With bass and drums and the occasional sax or dobro added, the guitar work is never overpowered. A very crisp album, and a fine piece of work. (Red House, Box 4044, St. Paul, MN 55104)