- Daylight at Midnight
- Travis Haddix
- Earwig Records
The blues is alive and well in…Cleveland! Yes, Cleveland, hundreds of miles from the Windy City and now bereft since 2006 of long-time resident Robert Lockwood Jr., still has the blues, and one of its prime exponents is Travis Haddix. His new album is a worthy addition to his prior career efforts.
Haddix is underrecognized nationally, perhaps because he stays near his home, other than forays into Europe where he has a loyal fan base. After laboring in obscurity in local clubs while holding down day jobs at General Motors and the U.S. Postal Service for over 20 years each, Haddix landed a contract at Ichiban Records in the late 1980s, but gained little traction during his 10 years there. Subsequently he formed his own record label, and Earwig has now begun to distribute his albums. Good choice for both parties, and for us blues fans.
Haddix cites his father, a talented blues multi-instrumentalist, and Bobby Blue Bland and B.B. King as major influences, but this album reveals others as well, and exposes Haddix’s wide range. The second song, “Backward Baby,” is undeniably reminiscent of Albert Collins’s signature guitar style, featuring a cascade of rapid notes followed by an extended one, but Haddix’s playing (and singing) trades Collins’s sting for suppleness. The title cut builds on riffs by both B.B. and Albert King, and presents a tasty interplay between Haddix and Mike Calhoun on the other lead guitar. “You Kind of Fool” could be mistaken for the work of the horn-driven late 1960s Paul Butterfield Blues Band or Electric Flag. “Who Could I Be?” highlights Haddix’s soul chops, stirring up memories of Little Milton Campbell. “What to Do” and “Blues Leftovers” feature pulsating funk guitar and pay homage to none other than James Brown.
Throughout, Haddix’s guitar leads are impressive, although stronger on precision than emotion; likewise for his vocals. The backing musicians are tight, although on a few songs the horns seem intrusive rather than propulsive. The most compelling trait of the album is its songs, all penned by Haddix, and all memorable, especially “Way Back in the Country,” about a rural sexual awakening, and the witty “Nine Behind.” Multiple other blues performers have recorded Haddix songs, and with good reason.
“Daylight at Midnight” is a solid effort which should gain Travis Haddix more admirers.