Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Guitarist Jim McCarty shows hard-rocking side on new Cactus CD 'Black Dawn'

 Jim McCarty is well known as a blues and R&B guitarist, first appearing on the national scene in the mid-1960s as a member of Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, and performing later with the Detroit Blues Band and his current blues group Mystery Train.
But McCarty, who has earned a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Detroit Blues Society, has a hard rocking side as well.
Although he in his sixth decade as a performer, McCarty demonstrates that he still has monster chops on the new “Black Dawn” CD by the reunited group Cactus.
Jim McCarty (Photo by Steve Jessmore)
“This is a whole different ballgame,” said McCarty, who has also been a member of The Rockets and the Buddy Miles Express. 
The original Cactus group formed in 1969, with McCarty on guitar and former Amboy Dukes frontman Rusty Day on vocals and harmonica joining the former rhythm section from Vanilla Fudge — drummer Carmine Appice and bassist Tim Bogert — to form a lineup dubbed “the American Led Zeppelin” by Creem magazine.
The band released three albums — “Cactus” (1970), “One Way … Or Another” (1971) and “Restrictions” (1971) — before McCarty left the group at the end of 1971.
Members of the original group reunited in 2006 with McCarty, Appice and Bogert joined by vocalist Jimmy Kunes, who replaced the late Rusty Day. That year, the group released an album titled “Cactus V.”
McCarty left the band again in 2008, but returned in 2011 with Appice, Kunes, bassist Pete Bremy, and Randy Pratt on harmonica. Bogert retired from touring.
McCarty clearly enjoys the opportunity to rock out. 
“I love playing with Carmine,” McCarty said. “When the band is on, it’s an ass-kicking band.”
This album is not for the faint of heart. It rocks … hard.
Seven new songs on the album are penned by McCarty, Appice and Kunes. McCarty and Appice wrote the other original tune, “The Last Goodbye.”
The title tune, “Black Dawn,” touches on a modern subject.
“It’s a commentary on how we’ve destroyed the planet and now it’s come back to bite us in the butt,” McCarty said. 
The CD also features two songs recorded by the original band circa 1970, an instrumental titled “Another Way Or Another,” and “C-70 Blues,” featuring Day on vocals. They were recently unearthed by Appice.
“I’m not sure where Carmine found those,” McCarty said. “It’s been so long, I really don’t remember recording them.
When you listen to those (two songs) and the stuff from 2016, there’s really no energy drop. That, I think, is a pretty amazing thing. The stuff being done now by the band stands up energy wise to the stuff we did 40 years ago.”
“Black Dawn,” available Sept. 1, is the band’s first studio album in 10 years. The release will be followed by a mini tour that includes a performance at The Magic Bag in Ferndale on Sept. 17.
“This one is, hands down, the best sounding CD the band has ever put out,” McCarty said. “On a lot of our (earlier) CDs, the playing was good but the recording quality and the overall sound left something to be desired. This CD sounds the way it is supposed to from an audio point of view. It’s our most mature work too.”
McCarty, 71, has dealt with some health issues, but is grateful that he is still able to perform at the highest level.
He plans to continue playing rock and blues guitar indefinitely.
“I’ll play as long as I can still play. That’s what I am here for, and that’s what I’ll do.”

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