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Reviews of the CD, "House Of Cards" by Michael Peloquin
(Globe Records GLO-025)


From the "Horns of Dilemma" to guitarist Tommy Castro, Peloquin assembled an impressive group of friends to help out with this fantastic recording, which features his smooth West Coast vocals, fat sax playing and in-the-pocket harp work. The material moves from the straight blues of "23 Kinds of Fine" to the funky jazz of "Maceosity", with a side trip to Louisiana on "What's Yours is Yours." (Globe Records)

- Blues Access Issue 44/Winter 2001

Harpist, sax player and vocalist Michael Peloquin offers his debut as bandleader after having been a side player for much of the past 20 years. He's contributed to the work of such artists as Albert King, Johnnie Johnson and Tommy Castro (who guests on this disc), but here Peloquin delivers his own attitude-laced soul-blues at times crossing into R&B, funk and jazz.

House of Cards is a spirited, rhythmic work with maximum groove. The horn arrangements are tight and well written, and though Peloquin occasionally pays tribute to others, he avoids generic formulas. And unlike so many blues releases where the vocal tracks pale in comparison to the instrumentation, Peloquin really can sing. With a swaggering, soulful resonance, effective phrasing and an engaging vibrato, Peloquin uses a vocal style not unlike Castro's. He also produced the album himself and wrote nine of the eleven songs.

The repeated rhythmic change-ups - from funk-influenced straight eights to swing shuffles - show fine songcraft. Midtempo lament "24 Hours in a Day" jumps out of the speakers as Peloquin pumps tongue blocked harp notes against Castro's stinging guitar lines, the horn section providing full-bodied, soulful color. The title track, with its R&B horns punctuating a fast triplet rhythm, features some of the album's better lyrics. "Maceosity," a full band funk workout and obvious tribute to Maceo Parker, has Peloquin taking a supportive chordal harmonica role. The acoustic, Delbert McClinton-penned "Maybe Someday Baby' showcases Peloquin blowing bluesy country soul.

The album's drumming, by four different percussionists, is notable for its focus and feel, and Steve Lucky's and Mitch Woods' piano work are also key contributions. Peloquin covers many bases with House of Cards, proving he's one sideman who deserves to be front and center.


Michael Peloquin is a long time sideman for such greats as Albert King, Johnnie Johnson and Tommy Castro. In this new CD he brings in guest artists Tommy Castro, Mitch Woods and Steve Freund to pay tribute to the harmonica-laced blues.

From the initial cut "24 Hours in a Day", this rocking good time just gets better and better. Peloquin's excellent lead vocals are augmented by a strong horn section, while Tommy Castro's lead guitar and Steve Freund's rhythm guitar create a blues sound that few new artists have achieved.

A cover of Delbert McClinton's "Maybe Someday Baby" is one of the strongest cuts. The most interesting tunes are the upbeat "Lose That Loser" which features Charles Brown's guitarist Danny Caron, "House of Cards" with Hammond B-3 organ in the capable hands of Parris Bertolucci and "What's Yours is Yours" with Mitch Woods' infectious piano and New Orleans style Peloquin vocals.

After twenty years as a sideman, Peloquin, a singer and harmonica player of great talent, has stepped out front with a consummate blues CD with original songs, bringing a new talent to the musical front. (Howard A. DeWitt)


After a career as a sideman this is Peloquin's first effort as leader, never heard of him? Neither have I and I'll bet that not too many folks this side of the Atlantic have either. He is a white boy singer, harp-blower and tenor and baritone sax player as well composer of nine of the eleven numbers on this CD. There is no doubting his ability on his instruments and he has a pleasant if unremarkable voice and material although a little derivative is strong. If I had to draw a comparison his harp playing reminds me a tad of Norton Buffalo, who co-incidentally contributes a brief liner note.

He has several well-known guest sidemen in the shape of guitarists Tommy Castro, Steve Freund and Danny Caron and Mitch Woods makes a guest appearance on piano on What's Yours Is Yours.

Several cuts are in a Roomful Of Blues style, 24 Hours in a Day, So Close and the N'Awlins flavoured What's Yours Is Yours with lots of brash horns and tight arrangements. Maceosity is a funky instrumental, 23 Kinds Of Fine is pure down-home Chicago, Delbert McChnton's Maybe Someday Baby is given a two guitar and harp backing which imparts a rather old fashioned sound, not unattractive though. The closing instrumental Non-Did-Duh-Lee is the old haircut, shave, two bits tiff, with the harp backed by piano and percussion. While not exactly a load of old toot, I can't see the readers of B&R queuing up to buy this disc. There's nothing inherently wrong with it, it just has nothing new to say. But if you think this is the kind of thing you can't five without, Globe Records can be contacted at PO Box 5523, Mill Valley, California 94942, USA or check out their website at wwwgloberecords.com


Maybe I love music too much (Possible? Nah.), but when I first load a disc by someone new to me, there's always a sense of almost breathless anticipation . . . Sometimes I can tell right away that it just ain't gonna happen for me. Then there are times like when I cranked up Michael Peloquin's "House Of Cards." From the very first notes I felt like I'd found musical nirvana (the state of mind, not the grunge band!).

Michael fairly blasts out of the gate with a big, brassy sound on the opener, "24 Hours In A Day." No surprise there -- he plays both tenor and baritone sax, and he's been writing horn charts for some very cool cats (Albert King, Johnnie Johnson, Tommy Castro, Mitch Woods) for over twenty years now.

That experience pays off big time on this, Michael's first outing as leader. There's a confident swagger throughout, but it's the kind that comes with ability, not attitude. Horn-based funk dominates. "23 Kinds Of Fine" is the only cut that's even close to a traditional shuffle...with detours into jazzy swing on the three instrumentals. (Check out "Maceosity" -- no doubt a tribute, and a very worthy one, to Mr. Parker of James Brown fame.)

All but two of the tracks are originals, and Michael displays a wry lyrical touch on tracks like "One Time In A Row" and "What's Yours Is Yours." And his cover of Delbert McClinton's "Maybe Someday Baby," done here with just two guitars and acoustic harp, is such a radical re-working that he makes it entirely his own. (Yet if I had to make comparisons, Delbert does spring to mind, as does Lloyd Jones' excellent "Love Gotcha" set on Blind Pig from a year or two back). But hey, did I say harp? Michael took the gold medal at the '97 International Harmonica Festival in Germany. So in addition to his stellar "real" sax work, he displays a stunningly original style on the Mississippi saxophone. That's where comparisons fail; really, I can't think of anyone that sounds anything like Michael. And given the instrument's inherent limitations (he sticks primarily to diatonic), it's saying something that Michael can establish a wholly unique voice. Extensive experience as a sideman has another advantage -- one's contact list contains some pretty heavy names. So dropping by to repay past favours are the aforementioned Tommy Castro (guitar) and Mitch Woods (piano). Additional guitar work comes courtesy of the ever-tasteful Steve Freund, while Steve Lucky takes over the piano chair for a cut as well. Mr. Peloquin has delivered a dynamite debut, bound to please anyone who likes the brassier, funky side of the blues. Highly recommended!

Globe Records P.O Box 5523 Mill Valley CA 94942, USA 877-456-2301 www.globerecords.com. Michael's Web page: www.harpsax.com

- © 2000 by John Taylor, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.
Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission.
For permission to use this review please E-mail Ray Stiles.

Michael Peloquin is stalwart of the Bay Area Blues and R & B Scenes in California. This talented singer, saxophonist and harpist has been a sideman for many great Blues and R&B artists over the last twenty years. Artists like Tommy Castro, Mitch Woods, Albert King, Johnnie Johnson and E.C. Scott.

The self produced "House Of Cards" was mostly recorded at couple of studios in California. Tomland in Pacheco and Sy Klopps Studios in San Francisco. Heaps of pedigree musicians on this one. Tommy Castro, Mitch Woods, Steve Freund, Ed Earley and Steve Lucky only to name a few. Plus some pretty good brass players.

Peloquin honks, blows and sings his heart out on "House Of Cards". Nine of the compositions are originals. Some are "What's Yours Is Yours", "One Time In A Row", "23 Kinds Of Fine", "Lose That Loser" and "24 Hour A Day". "Don't Leave So Soon", "Maceosity" and "Noh-Did-Duh-Lee" are instrumentals. Michael Peloquin has really stepped in the spotlight as a leader with this one.

- John Bates, The Catalogue Man

Michael is both a harmonica and sax player, and smoooooth at both instruments and his vocals kick ass too! In 1997 Michael won the Gold Medal in the International Harmonica Festival Competition.After twenty years of playing sideman to such artist as Albert King, Johnnie Johnson, Tommy Castro, E.C. Scott, Mitch Woods, Larry Davis, Sy Klopps and Rhythmtown-Jive he has stepped up to the plate and hit a grand slam. Michael wrote seven of the eleven tunes and they are great.

If you like big sounding horns you will get that and more with such a sexy lady back up singer. He puts his harp in just the right places and his harp playing is superb! He can give ya that acoustic sound as well as that fat/juicy kind too, tone out the ying-yang. His vocals are as good as his sax/harp playing, polished and experienced.

I give this CD a solid (6 1/2) Harp Salute, very well thought out and executed effort, top-drawer stuff. I especially liked the last tune, Sonny Boy 2 style!!

- "September 2000 CD Reviews" by Steve "Big Daddy BluzHarp" Harvell

"Michael is a soulful player and arranger and I'm happy to be a part of his first solo effort."

- Tommy Castro

What keeps the blues from sounding redundant? Guys like Michael Peloquin. The 11 cuts on Peloquin's just released "House of Cards," could make it as a damn good blues album without any horns, but add the horns to Peloquin's original compositions and you've got salt on the watermelon. Lots of musicians these days call their music a blend of rock, blues, jazz, yada, yada,...you know. Instead of meshing of a little bit of this and that, here and there, Peloquin punches out each of his individual songs with a distinctive flavor. Proof that "House of Cards" is not just any old blues album is evident in the first cut, "24 Hours in a Day" which cries with the deft guitar work of Tommy Castro. Peloquin, who skillfully handles lead vocals in addition to harmonica and saxophone on the album, penned all the songs on "House of Cards," except for Delbert McClinton's "Maybe Someday Baby" and Richard Palmer's "So Close." A couple of tunes are all downhome blues, while others are definably funk influenced. There's also an occasional breath of Professor Longhair. A standout is "Don't Leave So Soon," with great jazz guitar by the unknown-but-should-be-known, Brian Wilkie, who also works guitar on "Maceosity". Another standout performance is delivered by Allyson Paige, who showcases her strength as backup vocalist on the title cut. The full-house horn sound is there on most cuts with horn arrangements that could rival our own special favorites, The Memphis Horns. For years Peloquin has been in demand as an arranger and as an R&B sideman for his killer harmonica and saxophone work. In the past 20 years he has backed up blues greats like Albert King, Johnnie Johnson, Tommy Castro, E.C. Scott, Mitch Woods and Larry "Arkansas" Davis. He is currently working with the hot San Francisco Bay area group, Rhythmtown-Jive. Since the release of "House of Cards" last month, Peloquin has been booked on several stages with Tower of Power, Sy Klopps and is also part of the Further Tour. For his debut album, Peloquin called in a fabulous line up of players, Steve Freund (guitar, Luther Allison and Boz Scaggs); Tom Poole (trumpet, Etta James); Danny Caron (guitar, Clifton Chenier, Charles Brown); Ed Early (trombone, Albert King, Joe Louis Walker, Elvin Bishop); and Jeff Tamelier (guitar, Tower of Power) . Even folks who don't profess to being big blues fans, will like this one. Order from Globe Records or check with your favorite music store.

- Fayetteville (AR) Free Weekly 8/8/00

"A blues sound that few new artists have achieved." "A consummate blues CD-original songs which bring a new talent to the musical front"

- Rock 'N Blues News

Peloquin es uno de esos armonicistas con un buen 'tono', grueso, con cuerpo, y que tambien toca el saxo tenor. Sin embargo es con la armonica con lo que a mi me llega mucho mas profundamente, sin desmerecer en ningun momento las buenas maneras que tiene de soplar el metal. Como cantante Michael posee una buena voz, expresiva, poderosa y embriagadora. El disco es una excelente mezcla (que no fusion) de chicago-blues-rumba-shuffle-rock. En cada tema hay un estilo de los antes mencionados, mas algunas otras formas musicales muy bien estructuradas. MUY BUENO. Peloquin is one of those harmonica players who has got a really good big fat tone. He also plays tenor sax but he deeply touches me when he plays harp. This does not mean that he also does a good work with horns. Michael has a powerful expressive good voice. This cd is a perfect mixture (not fusion) of chicago-blues-rumba-shuffle-rock. One can find one of the mentioned musical styles on each song and some other well defined musical forms. GREAT.

- La Hora Del Blues-Brazil QUARTELY Cds REVIEWS


SAN FRANCISCO: The extraordinarily robust Michael Peloquin bursts out on the scene with a terrific new recording. Featuring his remarkable songwriting, world-class R&B arrangements, and incendiary chops on both bari & tenor sax & especially gifted harmonica-playing, this recording doesn't let up from first cut to last. An expressive and gritty singer, Peloquin has an hour's worth of terrific material to work with, and enjoys prominent contributions of such stellar Bay Area friends such as Tommy Castro, Steve Freund, Steve Lucky, Danny Caron, Daniel Castro, Mitch Woods, Anthony Paule, and a fiery host of gifted sidemen & women. Well-known among Bay Area blues and R&B players, Peloquin has produced a solid-sender of an album that will be hard to keep out of your CD player. Four Stars- check it out!

- Joseph Jordan ©2000 - All Rights Reserved
Contributing Writer w/ Blues Revue, Blues Access & Southland Blues.

"While seeing Michael play with Sweet Baby Jai, where he had a chance to spread his wings a little bit, I was blown away by his horn playing. Then he took out the harmonica and it was all over. Now that I've had a chance to experience his own project, where he is not a side man, but rather out front on his own compositions, singing, playing, arranging and leading a pretty awesome line up of musicians, all I can ask is why it's taken so long? As a DJ in AAA radio, I get a chance to share with the audience music that touches my soul, makes me want to dance and I know they'll like. 'House of Cards' is that rare CD where you want to play all of it, the hard part is what not to play. So, sit back, relax with your favorite consumable and significant other, turn up the volume and enjoy!

- Stewart Strauss, KTHX 100.1 FM, Reno, Nevada."

Michael Peloquin widmet sein Debutalbum „all the harmonica innovators (blues and otherwise), the saxophone honkers and shouters and the great R&B horn sections". Damit wissen sie bereits, was auf sie mit dieser Platte zukommt. Überrascht werden sie allerdings von der Qualität sein, mit der Genanntes geboten wird. Es nimmt Wunder, wie dieser Mann bis dato - immerhin über zwanzig Jahre als Sideman unterwegs - als Frontmann unentdeckt bleiben konnte. Immerhin bedienten sich Leute wie Albert King, Tommy Castro, Johnnie Johnson oder E.C. Scott seiner Fähigkeiten. Peloquin liefert gute Songs, exzellente Harmonica und Saxophone und macht auch als Sänger hervorragende Figur. Die Horns sind exakt und messerscharf arrangiert, lassen die langjährige R'n'B-Erfahrung Peloquins erkennen. Aber auch in „kleiner" Besetzung, wie auf „Maybe Someday Baby", überzeugt das Multitalent gekonnt. Peloquin beherrscht alle Spielarten von Swing bis Funk perfekt, aber stets mit der nötigen Emotion gepaart. Seine Harmonika ist in klassischen Bluesriffs ebenso Zuhause wie im mitreißenden Überblasen oder geschmackvoller chromatischer Arbeit. Ebensolches gilt für sein Saxophon. New-Orleans-Flair („What's Yours Is Yours") wird ebenso geliefert wie kleinere Soulpopausflüge („One Time In A Row"). Highly recommended, wie der Österreicher sagt!

- DiHo-, Blues & Roots, CONCERTO, Austria

Peloquin est un souffleur, il aime produire et écrire des arrangements pour cuivres. Depuis, plus de 20 ans, il joue en compagnie de gens qui ne laissent personne indifférent, Albert King, Johnnie Johnson, Tommy Castro et son groupe de San Francisco, Rhythmtown Jive. Il a beaucoup d'amis au bord du Pacifique, ils lui ont donc rendu visite dans les studios de Sy Klopps à Frisco. Le démarrage est de 1ère classe, "24 hours in day", un R&B, aux changements de ryhrtme dévastateurs, merci à l'invité aux cordes un certain Tommy Castro, secondé à la rythmique par Steve Freund en personne. Michael se partage entre son harmonica et son sax baryton. "Lose that loser", se poursuit en rythme, l'orgue d'Herman Eberitzsch emmène les autres musiciens dont Dany Caron, longtemps le guitariste des Rocket 88s de Mitch Woods, et Steve Lucky avec son piano sautillant nous emmène dans la banlieue de New Orleans, un beau faire-valoir de l'ensemble. Et la voix de Michael, me direz-vous, et bien, elle s'inscrit parfaitement dans ce type de répertoire, du R&B solidement cuivré. Blues proche de Chicago, pour "23 kinds of fine", Eberitzsch est passé au piano, Steve Freund est à la guitare. Funk vibrant sur "So close", Willie Riser à la base et Vince Littleton aux drums sont parfaitement soudés. "Maceosity" est un hommage instrumental à Maceo Parker, du funky jazz, Michael joue de l'harmonica à l'unisson du sax tenor de Jack Holmes et du trombone de Danny Armstrong. Cap sur la Nouvelle Orléans losque Mitch Woods s'installe derrière les claviers pour "What's yours is yours". L'un des deux seules reprises est "Maybe someday baby" de Delbert McClinton, un traitement très roots, unplugged, Peloquin chante en occupant bien l'espace, il délibre son meilleur exercice sur son harmonica, entre les deux guitares de Steve Freund qui tisse de bien belles phrases et Anthony Paule est à la rythmique. L'album se retire sur deux instrumentaux, dont nous soulignerons le dernier "Noh-Did-Duh_Lee", Vincez Littleton aux percussion imrpime le rythme à la Bo Didley, pour permettre au piano d'Eberutzsch et l'harmonica de Michael de dialoguer. Un bon album.

- Jean-Claude Mondo, Le Monde au Blues, Jan, 2001