If you happened to miss Duke Graham’s performance on the Herreid-Fender Stage inside Tower Music last weekend, don’t despair. You can still experience this man’s diversely influenced original material on this CD release from Lava Dog Music (P.O. Box 29508, Los Angeles, CA 90029).
Intimations of Neil Young, Tom Waits, the Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan and many more are sinuously interwoven through much of the material. With the opening cut, “Leave the Light On,” Graham and legendary drummer Mike Erpino establish an “Out for the Weekend” rhythm (cf. opening track on Young’s Harvest), the lyrics detailing a fracturing romance: “Though you never liked LA in the summertime/ We broke each other down/ and waited for the fallout. … Leave the light on when you’re gone….”
The Hoagy Carmichael feel to “If You Ever Change Your Mind” is attractive, as is Graham’s economical jazz guitar solo there. Instrumental “Smoke Dance” implies the Dead in its most jazzy/laid-back mode, and the set-closing “Hit the Road” takes the CD out at a satisfying folk-blues pace.
If the CD suffers from anything, it’s a lack of focus. Still, the songs here are so consistently likable, that’s a minor quibble.