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Finger Pickin' Good
Bob McGowan CD Review

By Janvier Musson
Posted Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Distributed by Whalebone Music

Country Joe McDonald

Bob McGowan has been playing music since he was knee high to a grasshopper. Growing up in a musical family, (both his parents, his uncles and grandparents all played a variety of different instruments) it was natural that Bob would follow that tradition. He recalls playing at family functions when he was a youngster, playing what he says could only be described as “Old Timey Music”…(that’s folk music to you & me) and whilst he was still a young man, (he’ll tell you he’s STILL a young man) he fell in love with the music of folks like Doc Watson and Chet Atkins and then he heard the blues of Skip James, Son House and Robert Johnson and it was all over bar the shouting so to speak. He was lucky enough to meet a young american draft dodger who was hiding out in Melbourne who could really play this style of music. Needless to say, Bob hung out with him and learnt the intricacies of mountain music and delta style finger picking. That draft dodger was none other than Country Joe McDonald and Bob was able to learn first hand from a man who had learned 1st hand from the original masters.

Killers of Eden

During the ‘70’s he fronted ‘Uncle Bob’s Band’ who were extremely popular on the Melbourne music scene (they recently got back together to record an anniversary album, but that’s another story) and then he moved up country (as folks did in them days) and joined up with mandolin and fiddle player Ray Gardaya as The Front Porch Pickers, playing a mix of bluegrass and blues tunes. He was also a founding member of the Killers of Eden, whose CD of original tunes, “Under Eden Skies” still sells well today (most notably in Eden!!)
“Finger Pickin’ Good” is Bobs’ 1st solo effort and was recorded in Melbourne (where Bob once again resides) with fellow ex-Killer Nick Timms engineering and producing. There are eight songs on this CD, a couple of Bobs’ originals, ‘Ella Song’ and ‘Fishin’ From the Bar’ some old classic blues tunes, Earl Hines’ “Diddy Wah Diddy”, Blind Blakes’ “Make Me A Pallet On Your Floor” and the old standard, “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down & Out” (here called “Millionaire”) all arranged by Bob, plus a couple of fairly recent songs Bob said he’d heard on the radio or on RAGE and of course, there’s a Doc Watson medley.

"a fine fingerpicker"

This is a well played and well recorded CD which, whilst it doesn’t break any new ground, makes for very pleasant listening and would please any fans of this genre of music and it is a good primer into Bobs’ musical roots. It is also an excellent starting point for newcomers who may then wish to delve back into the archives and seek out the pioneers. Bob is a fine finger picker, with whom I’ve had the pleasure of playing in the past and I look forward hopefully, to a CD of the Front Porch Pickers in the not-too distant future.

Contact Bob on (03) 9531 8160

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