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Blues Blast Magazine

The traditional pyramid of strength starts off with ‘Foundational Strength’ at its base, before moving on to ‘Aggressive Strength’ in the middle, and finally ‘Super Strength’ at the top.

But after hearing her amazing story of perseverance, perhaps a new level should be added to that pyramid – a level at the very top that dwarfs all those below it – the ‘Annie Mack’ level.

The Rochester, Minnesota-based blueswoman has steadfastly refused to let anything derail or detain her, and when looking back on an eventful 2014 – a year that was highlighted by the birth of her son, along with a trip to the International Blues Challenge (IBC), while she was still carrying her child – her indomitable will and spirit comes shining brightly through. “When I was pregnant, I was really competitive. It was like, ‘No, I’m not canceling these gigs, I’m playing.’ So there I was down at the IBCs and was six-and-a-half months pregnant and all I wanted to do was nap and eat,” she laughed. “Those were my priorities … eating and napping. It was funny to be on Beale Street and not be in party-mode.”

Although she eventually was forced to slow down a bit, as soon as her son was born, it was back to business at hand for the dynamic Mack.

“I was only out for about four weeks. I had him May 2nd and then June 2nd I went back to work and had my first show. But honestly, I don’t know if I’d do that again, because I’m still recovering from that. We hit the road and did a lot of festivals and it was what it was … which was kind of crazy … crazy but fun,” she said.

Mack and her band have been crazy-busy supporting their debut release, Baptized in the Blues. The disc was nominated for New Artist Debut at this year’s Blues Blast awards and has managed to rack up a number of glowing accolades, despite most of the promotional groundwork having been done by Mack herself, without much outside aid.

“Well, without a marketing agency and without a label, I think we did pretty well. I did know that we wanted to go big with our debut album, because we don’t have all those things (marketing tools),” she said. “We knew the production had to be good and we weren’t concerned with being something that we’re not. If we set the bar and say this is who we are; we love all kinds of music, but the foundation is blues, that’s what’s important. I really like the old-school, organic, word-of-mouth process that we followed with the album.”

You might say it’s something of a surprise that Mack ever found her name emblazoned on a record sleeve to begin with. A relative late-comer to the vocation of playing music (basically just the last six years or so), she never really intended to take the charts by storm or play concerts all across the United States. No, Mack’s reasons for playing the blues were a lot simpler than that.

“This whole music thing has been such a whirlwind. I just did it because I thought it would be cool to do something that I liked before I die. I was doing all these weird jobs and just kind of getting by and I’ve always liked music, so I thought I would do this little hobby-band thing and see what happens,” she said. “So this is something that’s really been forming my whole life, honestly. The album is basically my life and the songs are about some of the great things in my life, or are things that I’ve overcome and I can say, ‘Hey, I’m still here.’ I also wanted to leave a little legacy for my daughter, so she could say, ‘Man, that’s my mom and that’s her story.’”

With notebook after notebook containing her memories – mostly put down on paper for therapeutic reasons – scattered around, Mack knew deep down inside that the next logical step was to try and put them to music. The only problem was; she really didn’t have a band.

“When I first started this, I really didn’t have a band. The guys that are now in my band, I was just kind of working with at that point in time. And everyone kept saying, ‘Annie, you have to do a blues album.’”

In short order, Mack managed to come up with a band to help turn her memories into songs (guitarists Paul O’Sullivan, Tom Kochie and Charlie Lacy; bass player Tim Scribner; and drummer Miles Johnson).

“They’re not just wonderful players; they’re men of integrity,” she said. “And they don’t drink! I’m the only one (in the band) that drinks. We go into these bars and they’ll give us a tab and I’ll go, ‘I’m the only one who drinks and I’m a mom, so good luck with that.’ But they (bars) love us.”

Paul O’Sullivan brought more to Baptized in the Blues than just his skills on the guitar and pedal steel. He also produced the disc, and co-wrote five of the songs with Mack. And oh, yeah – he’s also Mack’s husband. According to Mack, it’s a good idea to have some defining boundaries when your spouse is also a member of your band.

“You have to make a line between what goes on in the band and what goes on at home; there can’t be any carryover. We’ve definitely had to say, ‘Look, what goes on at home cannot carry over to the band.’ But I’ll keep it real – we’ve gotten into it in front of the guys, like when we were making the album,” she said. “It was work – hard work. He had a vision and I had a vision and we had to make sure that our visions worked together. We had to take the best of what we wanted to see happen and put it together. He really pushed me out of my comfort zone on part of it and I kind of reined him in, in some cases. It was all about communicating and putting our pride down and being humbled and being loving, all without our egos getting in the way.”

Stumbling blocks such as the ones mentioned are one thing, but just being able to share your work on a daily basis with your soul-mate makes those little speed bumps seem totally non-existent on most days.

“To be able to work and do something you love with your spouse is amazing; because honestly, a lot of musicians that I know have significant others that are not a part of that lifestyle. They’re not into music, they’re not players or they’re not vocalists,” Mack said. “To me, that’s strange when music is a big passion in your life and your significant other doesn’t share that with you. It’s just crazy. That’s why I knew that I had to be with someone that at least understood the passion and would be supportive of it.”

The tunes contained within Baptized in the Blues is an eclectic mix of a large variety of roots-based music, including some rockabilly, along with a dash of New Orleans jazz and it also features horns, as well as O’Sullivan’s pedal steel stylings, making the album blues with a different slant to it.

“We wanted to do different styles of blues, do things like Chicago blues or do this little train beat here or do this little shuffle there … just different styles. And as I started doing the songs, I felt convicted to give each song its own light and own proper voicing and styling,” Mack said.

The music may have several different facets to it, but the message contained within the lyrics all boils down to one universal theme: the truth.

“It may sound cheesy, but it’s just testimony and I do believe in the Lord. I do believe that we all have a purpose here and the beauty about music is, it’s a cool platform to encourage people,” Mack said. “I’m not here to preach, but the artists that I really admire are the ones you can hear the truth in. Etta James could sing anything, but there was just something about her that you hear the truth in … you could hear the conviction and you could tell she knew what she was talking about. And you could hear that in Mavis Staples, as well. There’s just something that resonates with your spirit when you hear her. That’s what I try to bring – truth and relatability. I want people to be encouraged and I want to share the journey; I’ll talk about dark things, but I also talk about the hope that comes if you just kind of withstand it (dark times). I just love hearing the truth … it sends shivers up your spine.”

Growing in Minneapolis, a city known worldwide for its funk, R&B and soul, Mack didn’t hear a whole lot of blues music. She truly feels that her eventual destination of playing blues music as an adult is a choice that was made for her from above.

“It was God. I know I was called upon to do blues music by Him. I was really surprised when I was pulled into it (playing the blues), it was like, here I am,” she said. “But it just seemed natural to me, because blues music is real and blues music is raw and there’s truth in it and there’s beauty in it. I really do believe that I was called on to sing blues music, because I sure didn’t grow up in it. I love that God is unique like that. People want to put Him in a box, but He meets people where they’re at and He knows exactly what we need. And for me, going into the blues has definitely been a spiritual journey. It’s certainly not for the money, or for the fame, wherever that is. I needed to get some healing and deal with the things that I’ve gone through.”

Some of those things that Mack went through as a child border on the unthinkable.

Mack’s mother raised her and her sister Lanette (who is eight years older than Annie) in a single-parent home in Minneapolis. Battling poverty conditions while also raising two daughters meant that conditions were in no way ideal for Mack’s mother, or for the family. Some of those frustrations came out in the physical beatings of Lanette by her mother. In 1988, when Annie was 10 and Lanette was 18, the older sister came home late one night – at 3 or 4 a.m. – to find her mother waiting for her. When quizzed about where she had been, Lanette talked back to her mother. For that, her mother pulled out a gun and shot Lanette. Just like that – in the blink of an eye – the family was torn apart. Lanette survived the shooting, but her mother was sent to prison and Annie was sent into foster care. That was when Annie Mack learned how to make it on her own.

“What I learned early on, was to survive. What I really learned was, you can have it all taken away. I learned that you had better find your foundation in something besides this world, because before you know it, it’s gone,” she said. “I had put my faith in my mother, and she was an abusive woman. But now that I’m older, I see things more clearly. Back then they didn’t have the support for a single mother like they have these days. I’m not making excuses, but it was very different back then. But you have to know who you are. If you don’t find out who you are, or what you do in this world, you’re going to live a very empty, unhopeful existence. So when my mother went to prison and I was 10 years old and in the foster system, I learned about people and I learned how to read people. That was my survival for so long. And I’ve taken a lot of that into my adulthood; being a survivor and understanding you’ve got to have a solid foundation. For me, that foundation was the Lord.”

That spiritual foundation helped Mack break free from what easily could have been a path toward self-destruction and helped send her on to a place much more productive and much more positive. And it all started when she realized someone really did love her.

“Yeah, it was like, wow! God’s going to love me, no matter what I do or what I say. He’s not going to beat me … He’s not going to leave me. So my faith came from believing that I have a future and that I’m supposed to be here,” she said. “It’s a really difficult thing to have a parent say they love you, but yet their actions don’t follow that. You don’t believe you’re loved; you don’t believe you’re worth anything. For the first part of my life, I believed I was worthless. I was suicidal, before I even knew what that word was. I was like, ‘Why am I here?’ And God said, ‘This is why you’re here.’ If you don’t have truth in your life to combat that, you will become another casualty.”

That’s precisely the message that Mack tries to impart on audiences when she plays the blues; seek the truth, believe in yourself and understand you do have a purpose, even in the darkest of times.

“I understand that battle better than anybody, so when I sing, I’m speaking to that person that may be struggling, or may be in that battle. I’m telling them, don’t believe those lies, because you do have purpose. I speak from the experience, not because I’m pretending to be somebody I’m not. I’ve been there and done that.”

Her message is spread from more than just the bandstand, too. Mack has long been actively involved in making sure that other youngsters do not have to go through what she did.

“I love non-profit work and I love working with teenagers. In fact, I had a job in the ministry for a short amount of time, working with kids whose parents were incarcerated. We were trying to keep the kids from falling into that cycle of being in the prison system; I loved that job and was very good at it. It was hard work, but I loved it. It was really fulfilling,” she said. “The only reason I gave it up, was because I needed to be home for my family. I need to be there for my own family, so I stepped back. But when my kids are older, I definitely want to go back and do prison ministry. I’m thinking about doing like a Johnny Cash thing (concerts for the incarcerated). Those people (in prison) are the forgotten and they need to be ministered to.”

Mack’s mother got sick and passed way in 2006. She has long been forgiven by Mack and the song “Hey, Hey Mama” is done very much in the style of music that her mother loved to listen to back in the day.

“It was like a revelation. My mother loved doo-wop and soul and I wanted it to be true to her story. I wanted it to be true to my experience and I wanted to bring about the feeling that my mom would really dig this,” she said. “This is my mom right here. And people that knew her would say, ‘Yeah, that’s Delia.” It was like each song (on the album), God kind of revealed. I said to Paul, ‘When I hear this “Fool to Believe” I just want to do this old-school, throwback kind of Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland thing. I wanted to capture that in that particular song, but each song has its own personality that I felt needed to be respected.”

Mack attended a local jam session held in a garage not long after her mother passed and that’s when she decided to give singing a try. A true natural, Mack rapidly came to realize that she might enjoy doing something that one of her idols – Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland – did for so many years.

“He just had a way … Bobby could sit down and it was like he was having a conversation with you. He knew just when to do everything; the restraint, the smoothness … when to be gruff … he was just such a big personality and such a grown-man,” Mack said. “So when I perform, I think like that – I’m a grown-woman and I’m going to have a conversation with you. We’re going to talk like we’re sitting in my house. Bobby would have a 10-piece band behind him, but that didn’t matter. They were on top of it and he was in control of it. There was just something about hearing him sing where I would go, ‘Man, this is it.’ It’s the same way with Etta James. If you watch her, you could see that she could also relate to you and she knew how to talk to you and how to draw you in and take you places. It was like church. That’s how you know when people are listening. Those types of performers amaze me and I try and think about that when I’m performing; how do I have that truth and relate to the audience?”

Blues Bytes

I had it on good authority that Minnesota’s entry into the 2014 IBC, Annie Mack, was a force to be reckoned with and I looked forward to the opportunity to catch this chanteuse from the land of 10,000 lakes. Unfortunately, our paths never crossed in Memphis, but I did come home with Annie’s record, Baptized in the Blues, and Annie blew me away. She’s not only baptized in the blues, they threw her in the river and made her swim to shore! It’s a great record and I can honestly say the pre-IBC hype was justified. Let’s give it a spin.

Let me begin by saying that Annie’s disc features all original tunes and she’s starting off strong with “Fool to Believe.” Annie’s trying hard to believe in the love she thought she’d found, but the truth seems to be very different from reality. “I got my bags all packed…waiting by the door…I’m all broke up inside…you don’t want me anymore.” Unfortunately, this relationship isn’t what Annie needs and she finds that “she’s a fool to believe.” Hopefully things will be looking up for her soon.

The title track, “Baptized in the Blues,” is up next and has a soulful, funky feel too it. “Down on Beale Street, blues saints gather ‘round…Beatin’ out the rhythm…on that hallowed ground….getting baptized…getting baptized in the blues.” The ghosts of Memphis are serving Annie well and she’s learned the lessons they were there to teach her. Our next cut, “Hey, Hey Mama,” starts out with a much slower and sweeter tempo as Annie tells us about a woman she knows. “Had to smile the other day…I could hear your voice…in the words I say…hey, hey mama…put your records on…get you a little taste of whiskey…listen to them old blues songs”. Sounds like a dear old friend of Annie’s who definitely draws some comfort from “them old blues songs.”

Annie’s roots are steeped in Gospel and she draws on those roots in our next tune, “Call on Jesus.” “You’d better call on Jesus…to get through...well, you keep chasing after the world…now, you’re dying in the world…ain’t nobody else gonna save you…you’d better call on Jesus.” Sounds like good advice to everyone truly looking to find their way.

We move on to the bass heavy “Little Bitty Girl Blues” and Annie’s expounding on the troubles of a little girl stuck in a very dangerous world. “The world was so big…and she was so small…really didn’t have nobody else to call…that’s when she knew…that she had the little bitty girl blues.” Oftentimes the world is just as tough for the children that inhabit it as well as us adults and kids are capable of getting the blues, too. This theme continues as Annie sings about what seems to be her little girl in “Saying Grace.” “Brown eyes…wild curls…dancing so free…round and round…pure at heart…God’s gift to me!” Annie’s love for this little girl is evident and it’s clear that she’s the apple of her mother’s eye.

Miles Johnston on the drums and Tim Scribner’s bass lay down a thick and nasty back end as Annie sings another song of sadness, “Seems like Sorrow.” “There ain’t never…no rest from this pain…seems like sorrow…be my name…be my name.” Tom Kochie’s laying down a tasty guitar like to lead us into the tune he wrote with Annie, “G-Groove.” It has a ZZ Top kind of groove to it, more instrumental with just a taste of vocal from Annie, and gives the band a break before they head into “Walking Dead.” “Walking Dead” is an old school tune and features Annie singing with a great deal of reverb in the mix. “So tired of whiskey-laced love…don’t need no half-hearted tenderness…I just want to feel my heart beat…all the way down…in my fingertips…don’t want to be…no walking dead."

Annie and the band close out Baptized in the Blues with another Gospel-tinged tune, “Revolution.” “Can I get an amen…or am I preaching to the choir…we need a revolution…truth start a righteous fire.” I’ve enjoyed Annie’s disc immensely and am glad that my Minnesota buddies --- Gary, Spike and John Hammer --- brought her to my attention. Sad that I missed seeing a live performance from Annie in Memphis, but I’m hoping to correct that later on this summer. Annie’s website is www.anniemackblues.com and I’d head over there and grab yourself a copy of Annie’s disc. We need a revolution in Annie’s case, and buying her CD is the best way to start a righteous fire!

--- Kyle Deibler

Blue Monday Monthly

Annie Mack Band made the Semi Finals! The Amazing thing was the constant and consistent buzz about Annie on the Street. They were definiantly THE act to see. Exec Director of the Blues Foundation Jay Sieleman made a specific point to catch em' not once but twice; and brought Janiva Magness along with Him! He told me he had been listeneing to Annie's latest Cd "Baptized in the Blues" and was significantly impressed! If a guy who hears as much quality blues as jay does, and cant get enough of this one,you KNOW you need to pick up that Cd for your own TODAY!

Living Blues December/January Issue

ANNIE MACK

Baptized In the Blues

No label name - (No #)

 

Vocalist Annie Mack is the best kind of “roots” artist—dedicated to the heritage she’s embraced, but resolute in her refusal to be pigeonholed. The title tune on this, her debut CD, is full of shout-outs to blues tradition, but it’s propelled by a boogity-shoe funk backing. The disc’s most straightforward gospel number, Call On Jesus, owes as much to classic-era, Latin-tinged R&B as it does to the gospel tradition; the wronged lover’s lament Fool to Believe grafts a Love Light–like groove onto a proto-funk, New Orleans–tinged rhythmic pattern.  Elsewhere, Mack delves into roadhouse rock, neo-Kimbrough trance boogie, country-tinged deep-soul balladry, and blues/rock/pop mélange in the contemporary mix-and-match mode. Her alto delivery is strong, and she seems to gain flexibility as she immerses herself more deeply in her material—any hint of rookie self-consciousness is erased when the spirit hits. Her band, meanwhile, summons high energy without succumbing to overkill, and they always remember to play ideas, not just notes, even at their most exuberant and hard-charging.

A special word about Mack’s lyrics: Her storylines portray everything from the struggles of a woman with “calloused hands [and] broken dreams” who finds solace in “a little taste of whiskey [and] them old blues songs” (Hey, Hey Mama) through the triumph of a street urchin, traumatized by “bullets . . . flying through her world,” who eventually faces down the Devil in human form (“A two legged snake”) and resolutely keeps “moving on the road of life” (Little Girl Blues), to the determination of a woman “tired of whiskey-laced love” who vows to find “a way to make myself truly mine” (Walking Dead). Along the way, she reaffirms her faith (Call On JesusRevolution), faces down despair (Seems Like Sorrow), cries out again for love (G-Groove), and opens her heart to a beloved child (the folkish Saving Grace). In a blues world overrun with bad-mama posturing on one hand and hoochie-mama silliness on the other, it’s refreshing to hear a lyricist with deeper ideas on her mind.  That alone makes Annie Mack worth checking out; the vocal and musical quality of this set only adds to the pleasure.

—David Whiteis

Emily A.k.a Lady Pastor

Last night some friends and I visited the Rochester Civic Theater for an awesome event. It was the kick-off of their 3-month focus on Celebrating Diversity and Inclusiveness.

"The Power of a Woman's Voice" is this year's theme. 

Last night's event was centered on the amazing music of Annie Mack and her terrifically-talented band! Here's their website.

Annie's energy and talent fills up the room. She has a power-house voice, and conveys such a genuine love of music (and her band)! It was a joy to spend the evening listening to this crew. The music is a combo of jazz/gospel/soul/country. Much of what they played last night is original, and it was really good.

The songs are all honest - about real stories and real emotions. There are also overtones of encouragement and hope.

Blues Blast Magazine

Annie Mack 

Baptized in the Blues

Annie Mack Music LLC/BMI

http://www.anniemackblues.com   

 

By Rainey Wetnight

 

CD: 10 songs; 37:37 Minutes

 

Styles: Soul-Influenced Blues, Gospel, Rock and Roll, and Americana

 

At the three-way intersection of gospel, soul and blues stands Minnesota native Annie Mack, who has been “Baptized in the Blues.” Her exciting debut album is an uplifting, eclectic, all original ten-song testimony of how music - and the Lord - can change lives for the better. Mack’s voice has the smoothness of cocoa butter tinged with cinnamon, warm and satisfying on both lead and harmony vocals. Accompanying her are producer Paul O’Sullivan on pedal-steel guitar, guitarists Tom Kochie and Charlie Lacy, Tim Scribner on upright and electric bass, and Miles Johnston on drums. Nine able studio guests add keyboards, horns, and background vocals. Every track is refreshing and original, showcasing Mack and her fellow artists’ keen storytelling ability. This album is so great and so well done, it will propel this Minnesota girl to performing on national and international stages. The following three selections are not only highlights of this CD, but of any blues collection:

 

Track 02: “Baptized in the Blues”--The title track, containing several notable names, a funky 1970s wah-wah groove, and Stax Records styled Memphis horns details Mack’s backstory of competing in Memphis’s 2011 International Blues Challenge: “Set foot in Memphis; what did I hear? Miss Zeno’s sweet voice filling the air. She looked at me and said, ‘Child, you’ve come to sing the blues. You didn’t choose them, but they sure done chose you.’” Baptism, especially by immersion, is a symbol of resurrection. One thing’s for sure: by being immersed in the blues, Annie’s gained a new perspective and lots of soul!

 

Track 04: “Call on Jesus”--This scintillating spiritual with a tango beat and Latin guitar lines is a heartfelt warning to those who’ve been seeking pleasure in the wrong places: “You keep chasing after the world; yes, you’re living for the world. Now you’re dying in the world - ain’t nobody else going to save you.” Mack harmonizes with herself poignantly on the chorus and no less than five female singers add background vocals for a real gospel effect.  

 

Track 09: “Walking Dead”--Forget the subjects of the popular TV series; here, our narrator is a different kind of zombie. But, she’s looking for life - - by getting away from a stifling alcoholic partner: “Been coming out in the dead of night, chasing down the blues, chasing out the light. Leaving a trail of tears on a long and dusty road. Sad memories, stench of your deceit on my clothes… So tired of whiskey laced love….” Annie’s voice echoes eerily, as does the chilling background harmony refrain. It’s remarkably reminiscent of a banshee’s wail. This powerful and touching slice of Americana also uses the old-vinyl-record-style snap, crackle hiss and pop as this ballad fades in and, then, out.

 

For a debut album, this is no novice production. The overall quality is at a level of a veteran and seasoned star. On Annie Mack’s website, she comments, “As a little kid, I fell in love with music. I realized that a lot of times, when I didn’t quite know how to express myself, music was able to convey for me what I couldn’t.” She extends a heartfelt invitation to one and all, genre novice and expert alike, to become fully “Baptized in the Blues”!

 

Rainey Wetnight is a 34 year old female Blues fan. She brings the perspective of a younger blues fan to reviews. A child of 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.

 

The Holler. Colorado Blues Society Publication

ANNIE MACK – BAPTIZED IN THE BLUES   Annie Mack Music LLC/BMI

I got this CD from Rob Wattles, one of our CBS members in Gunnison, Co  and I’m glad he turned me on to her. Annie Mack is a real find.  Her style has an uplifting quality to it, a combination of blues, roots, gospel, country and sweet soul-infused baby.  Her voice is  powerful yet smooth as silk, sultry and satisfying and instantly recognizable whether singing lead or harmonizing with the background choir. I say ‘choir’ because those back ground vocals are a key component of the sound, it’s like being in a Blues church, and I mean that in a good way, not a preachy one. Her songs are testimony to the power of music and how it can change lives.

Rob adds” ‘Baptised in the Blues’…is a nice collection of original tunes written by lead vocalist Annie Mack. With a beautiful voice that can project as well as any, yet always in control, Annie’s songs come from the heart and her life, and the lyrics are clear and understandable. The arrangements cover a lot of ground: funky, country blues, gospel a little do-wop feel and a nice shot of boogie”.

Her husband/producer  Paul O’Sullivan co-writes most of the songs and plays guitar and pedal –steel which adds a sweet touch to the overall sound. The opening cut, Fool to Believe is a catchy snappy tune that grabs you and makes you pay attention. Halfway into it, you know you want more!  And all 10 songs deliver.  A few of my favorites  Little Bitty Girl Blues and G-Groove   are both hard driving, boogie tunes that are a lotta fun, full of bounce and fire where you can just feel the Roadhouse atmosphere and almost smell the beer. Walking Dead is a cool song with a surreal spooky feel  to it… it creates dark and swamp-filled images- it’s got some real  bayou crawling built into in it. From start to finish these are ALL quality cuts, a fresh slice of blues so unique I have a hard time comparing her to anyone. But trust me it’s all good stuff.

If you are in Memphis this January check her out. Annie and her band are representing the Minnesota Blues Society at the 2014 IBC this year. She’s now on my ‘got to go see’ list. Based on what I heard on this CD, I’ll be surprised if she isn’t standing somewhere on the Orpheum stage at the end!

                   Review by- Chick Cavallero

Bman's Blues Report

I just received the newest release, Baptized In The Blues, from Annie Mack and it's really fresh. It is composed of 10 original tracks but for my listening it's way too short. Opening with Fool To Believe, a R&B style track with a real New Orleans feel, Mack and her band consisting of Paul O'Sullivan (guitar), Tom Kochi (guitar), Charlie Lacy (guitar)Tim Scribner (keys) and Miles Johnston (drums) get the parade started. On title track Baptized In The Blues, the band really digs deep into the street sound with a lot of addition by Peter Vircks (sax), Zachary Lozier (trumpet)and Matt Darling (trombone). Excellent! On soul ballad Hey, Hey Mama, Mack is backed by the rich vocal harmonies of Kathleen Johnson, Rhonda Johnson, Mocha Ya ya, Nora O'Sullivan and Dianna Parks. Paul O'Sullivan gives this track a bit of a western feel with traditional steel guitar playing. Really nice work. Call On Jesus has a certain Latin feel reminiscent of Black Magic Woman. This is a particularly strong track well featuring Mack's vocals, warm vocal backing, solid lyrics and clean guitar riffs. Saving Grace is a folk style track in the vein of Carol King or Stephen Stills with minimal acoustic guitar backing and steel guitar highlights. Seems Like Sorrow is another terrific track with great vocals from Mack and style right out of the school of Aretha Franklin. This track really has a nice groove and shows particular creativity blending soul, gospel, rock and stel guitar. One of the best tracks on the release. G-Groove is a cookin boogie track featuring O'Sullivan and Jason Craft (keys) trading riffs but of course with Mack never taking her hands from the controls. Walking Dead is a super track with roots in R&B but with a western twist. The vocal treatment on this track is particularly pleasing with echo effects and arpegiated chords on the guitar with vibrato and dabs of backing vocals. Very nice... I mean really! Wrapping the release is a gospel infused R&B track, Revolution, with strong vocals all around and hot funky riffs to get you moving. Hot funky jazz guitar riffs take the track in a different direction momentarily but it's the vocals on this track that really make it special. I haven't heard a release that has this solid a base in gospel and R&B that is as much fun in quite some time. This is a really cool release and one that I suggest you check out.

RootsTime Magazine . Belgium

On the debut album "Baptized By The Blues" brings Annie Mack ten original songs, which are a mix of soul, gospel and blues. To all the songs she has written. On the album she is accompanied by her producer Paul O'Sullivan on pedal steel guitar, guitarists Tom Kochie and Charlie Lacy, bassist Tim Scribner and drummer Miles Johnston. Nine additional studio musicians work extra with it. They play the keyboards, three wind instruments and five ladies sing the backing vocals. 1 "Fool To Believe"[The album opener is a R & B track with a pleasant New Orléans feeling] – 2 "Baptizes In The Blues" [In the title track the band sounds funky anno 1970 Stax and Memphis style, through the many extras from the saxophone, trumpet and trombone] – 3 "Hey, Hey Mama" [on this soul ballad is Annie Mack accompanied by five backing ladies. By the pedal steel guitar by Paul O'Sullivan, the song sounds more like in a Western] – 4 "Call On Jesus" [this song sounds Latino and is reminiscent of "Black Magic Woman". Mack sings the guitar riffs sound pure and soulful and delineated] –5 "Little Bitty Girl Blues"6 "Saving Grace" [the track sounds folky, such as Carol King of Stephen Stills. The guidance is minimal and acoustic with some steel guitar accents] – 7 "Seems Like Sorrow" [a song with a pleasant groove and Mack again in great style, Aretha Franklin. The mix of soul, gospel and rock characterize the number, containing, a special role for the steel guitar] – 8 "G-Groove" [a hot boogie with O'Sullivan (steel guitar) and Jason Craft (keys) that determine the show from the first row] – 9 "Walking Dead" [a nice mix of R & B with a Western twist. The echo effects on the voice of Mack are submitted by the chords and the vibrato of the guitar. This sounds like vinyl sounded] – 10 "Revolution" [the valve is again a mix of R & B and gospel, with strong vocals by Mack and funky jazzy hot guitar riffs].

This debut album by Annie Mack proves that she is more than a beginning blues singer. Mack can by its versatility more styles. In her singing she feels exactly where the nuances. For lovers of soul, gospel and blues and with for dessert here on top of a great voice, the album is "Baptized In The Blues" by Annie Mack an absolute must and certainly not as but yet another debut album by a newcomer.

Eric Sabry

San Juan Horshoe

Former Gunnison resident, Paul O’Sullivan, who now lives in Minneapolis, has hit a home run withBaptized in the Blues, featuring wife Annie Mack on lead vocals. The blues, often more traditional than innovative, gets a free limo ride downtown on this incredible CD.

The majority of songs, written by Annie and Paul, feature everything from Little Bitty Girl Blues, a fast moving song about growing up hard, to Walking Dead, a song about personal courage and the ability to stand up to it all. Call on Jesus grabs you right in the Bible belt with a bit of well-placed gospel moaning and wailing. Fool to Believe introduces rhythm and blues into the mix.

Perhaps my favorite song Saving Grace, talks about a mother’s love for her child. This powerful piece, written by Annie Mack and Tom Koochie, flows freely with lyrics such as “She speaks colors and laughs melodies. Wisdom draws her close, peace sits at her feet”.

Produced by O’Sullivan, who plays guitar and pedal steel, the work features Tom Koochie (who penned several songs) on guitar; Charley Lacy on guitar; Tim Scriber on bass and Miles Johnson on drums.

Anyone who enjoys the blues should give this CD a listen or two. It’s a lot of heat coming from a cold city up north. www.anniemackblues.com

Post Bulletin

Rochester's Annie Mack has been burning up local stages with her incendiary blues vocals for a few years now, but this new CD shows that Mack is more than just a blues singer.

In the recording studio for this disc, Mack allows her versatility to shine through on a set of songs that encompass soul, jazz, gospel and blues. This is a refined outing, not as gritty as Mack's stage performances — a tribute to her vocal control and her understanding of what each song needs.

Mack wrote or co-wrote every song here, including the lovely "Saving Grace," which is accented by a steel guitar. "Baptized in the Blues" has a funky '70s vibe to it, while "Walking Dead" is swampy and haunting. Nearly every song is given extra appeal by cool backing vocals, courtesy of Mack's local music friends.

The recording itself is clear, with a separation that allows every single instrument to be heard. First and foremost, though, is Mack's voice, exactly as it should be. It will be fascinating to see where this "baptism" leads Mack in the future.

— Tom Weber, Post-Bulletin

““We booked Annie Mack for our 4th Annual Blue Collar BBQ and Arts Festival this year. Annie Mack was the perfect blend of SOUL, ROCK & BLUES in one incredible performer. Backed by a stellar band, we are lucky to have Annie Mack in our Region. She is a performer you will want to book back again and again.” Ryan Heinritz Executive Director Paradise Center for the Arts. ”

Ryan Heinritz

“Annie takes us from the strong and powerful to the soft and melodic seamlessly. Tells us her story with amazing soul..”

Lynn Oldre'Mortensen President and Founder of Hambone Blues Festival - Road to Memphis Judges Comments

Rochesters Annie Mack kicked off Saturdays Lineup with a flourish as her powerful Blues Vocals drove the last of Fridays Cobwebs away.Annie was accompanied by a full band of two guitars,bass and drums. Whether performing with a band or solo Annie is the real thing and leaves fans longing for more.”

Doug Spike - Blue Monday Monthly

Next up was the Mark Cameron Band, featuring guest singer Annie Mack. They teased my dad as they introduced an original. Late to arrive, but much worth the wait was Annie Mack. Fans chanted her name as she took stage. Her powerful voice poured through the bar, whose patrons swiftly moved onto the dance floor. Annie has sassy and alluring stage presence and rockin knee high boots! Annie has a talent for connecting with the audience. She stepped off stage to sing and dance on the packed dance floor. 

    From Rochester, Annie was someone I had not heard of before tonight. She was joined by the house band, Phil Schmid on guitar, Jeremy Johnson on drums, Tim Wick on keyboards. Boy can she belt out a soulful song. She is one of those performers that when you hear them you say, "Wow," what a voice. It would be nice to see her up in the Twin Cities more often.

Blues Women International Showcase and Fundraiser.

 

 

 

Susan and I received a couple of demos from Annie Mack to preview, for an online radio show we have called Blues' Belles. As the title implies, it's strictly female blues musicians, singers, etc. Within that parameter we play anything from blues-rock to soul-blues to classic and vintage blues to new independent artists. As Annie's demos were obviously up against some crazy tough competition, it was fun to actually like them, and we decided to play one (Fool To Believe) on our March 15th show.

 

Fast forward to April 7 and Susan and I noticed that some of the ladies we had previously read about, with Blues Women International, were playing nearby and that Annie Mack was one of them so we went. Having listened to and liked a couple of demos didn't prepare us for Annie's performance. Live, she could stretch out over different tempos, mix it up, and really work with the crowd. Her voice was very powerful, but never over the top, and perfectly clear. She was also able to maintain a raw edge without resorting to shouting or getting shrill and was equally adept at bringing down the Blues to a low rumble. She, and her band, truly ignited the crowd. Annie was confident and obviously enjoying herself for her entire set and, though she was smiling, she took no prisoners….she just laid everybody out and we all loved it. Susan, my wife of few words, was also moved and maybe summed it up more succinctly …."Authentic" she said, "the real deal". We'll be back for more!

 

Craig and Susan Karle,

Blues' Belles Radio

bluesbelles.com

 

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Craig Karle

 

Response to Demo Ep with Singles From "Baptized in The Blues"

As a radio host, we recieve hundreds of CDs - many of amateur quality. Yours however has a full, high quality sound. In addition to your wonderful voice, you have the background singers. Then, the instruments - for example the guitar solos are outstanding and become a real integral part of the song, not just a tack on. AND, these are original songs!!

 

 

 

You have got something great going on!

 

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