|Getting the chance to work with a hero and a mentor is certainly the dream of most artists. For Toronto singer/songwriter and harmonica virtuoso, David Rotundo, connecting with Lee Oskar was kismet. The pair performed together in 2019 at the Annual Blues Festival in Puerto Escondido, and “Blues on the Beach” in Huatulco in Mexico and David signed as a featured artist with Lee Oskar Harmonicas later that year. These like-minded souls have now joined forces with Oskar producing Rotundo’s latest album: “So Much Trouble.” “I’m so excited to have produced David’s new collection of music and thrilled to have David and his music as one of the first projects produced and released under my new record label,” says Oskar.
The twelve new tracks feature an all-star cast of musicians from Canada and the Pacific Northwest performing a breadth of material from juke joint blues ,hard driving soul and introspective anthems, with Rotundo’s gravelly tenor and emotive blues harp at the center of each arrangement. Under Oskar’s sage direction the sessions captured each track in live off-the-floor single takes to maximize use of the energy and interaction from the players.
A driving train beat from award-winning drummer Andrew Cloutier propels the roadhouse boogie ‘She’s Dynamite,’ opening the set with dance floor filling zeal. He gets passionate on the bumping slow blues ‘I Must Be Crazy,’ straining his emotions and his vocal cords, bolstered by dramatic solo from Ron Weinstein on B-3 and Milky Burgess on lead guitar. Rotundo plays it cool on the slow burning ‘Funky Side Of Town,’ with his picture of life on the street given a cinematic musical backdrop that includes strings and choral underpinnings.
He further demonstrates his songwriter depth with the reflections on our current global struggles in the Delta Blues testimony ‘Hard Times Coming’ and the expansive title track reminiscent of a Pink Floyd anthem. ‘So Much Trouble,’ with its theatrical arrangement and pointed lyrics that will surprise and challenge casual blues fans. Rotundo trades vocal lines with Annie Jantzer and delivers harmonica leads in tribute to his mentor, Oskar, on the sultry swinging ‘Too Blue.’ Hot Hammond B-3 from Ron Weinstein and salty sax from Darian Asplund spice up the comic relief in the barrelhouse shuffle ‘Drinking Overtime.’ He reveals the inner workings of a man’s heart during the moody blues ‘That Thing Called Love’ and shares trials and tribulations of his journey through life on the gritty rocker ‘Trying To Find It.’ The delicate piano ballad, ‘Foolish Love,’ is a hymn to matters of the heart. A marvelous mixture of instruments including a world percussion ensemble, Dobro, strings, and chants are brought together for the global beat travelogue trance blues, ‘Long Road,’ that covers continents and a global musical message of peace and love. Rotundo closes the set on an intimate solo reading of the vaudeville classic from 1924, ‘Trouble In Mind’ – just a man ,his guitar and harp singing the blues.
This album is the epitome of achievement like-minded creatives can accomplish and a milestone in careers of both Rotundo as an emerging recording artist and Oskar as a producer who shared a common dream.
Rick J Bowen
Throughout his career, David has performed with many musical greats, including Lee Oskar, (original co-composer of such megahits as “Lowrider”, “Spill the Wine” and “Slippin Into Darkness”); the legendary Jack de Keyzer Band; Ronnie Hawkins; ex-Muddy Waters drummer Willie “Big Eyes” Smith; Madagascar Slim; Mel Brown; Jeff Healey; Johnny Winter; Edgar Winter; Finis Tasby; James Cotton; Magic Slim and The Tear Drops, Elvis Costello, Shakura S’Aida, and members of the Downchild Blues Band, to name a few. David Rotundo began his career as leader of his own band, The Blue Canadians, which toured internationally.
David has been recognized for his exceptional music talent by the following awards:
- Maple Blues Awards & Nominations: Harmonica Player of Year Winner 2007 & Best New Artist 2002. Nominee: 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
- Canadian Independent Artist Association: Best New Blues Album: 2001.
- CBC/GALAXIE RISING STAR Award: 2009
- David’s debut album, “Blowin’ for Broke” (Stone Pillar Studios) was nominated “Blues Album of 2001” by the Canadian Independent Artist Association and was winner of the Maple Blues Awards “Best New Artist of The Year ” in 2002.
In 2003, David returned to Stone Pillar Studios with his newly formed international “David Rotundo Band,” resulting in the highly popular, critically acclaimed “Blues Ignited” album, featuring international guitarist Enrico Crivellaro. Four years later, David recorded and released his live album, “Live at Roc ‘N Doc’s.” In 2008, it was considered in the top twenty blues albums released that year by numerous community radio stations with blues format shows.
In 2009, David released his fourth album, “No Looking Back,” which again featured Enrico Crivellaro on guitar and Jeff Healey’s keyboardist Dave Murphy on organ. The album was met with overwhelming response from fans both new and old, as well as music industry acclaim. In 2012, having performed regularly with a group of Estonian musicians, David released his first DVD “David Rotundo Live.”
From 2015-2019, David co-produced and performed in a series of Mexican festivals, including the Annual Blues Festival in Puerto Escondido, and “Blues on the Beach” in Huatulco. He has performed at the Huatulco festival every year since its inception in 2012.