(this piece was published by Planet JH Weekly)
Mike Dowling’s guitar playing is a delicacy. His brand of vintage blues, ragtime and bottleneck is not the raw slide attack of 1930’s-era Elmore James or Robert Johnson, but a rather refined, virtuosic approach that comes off the six string in a subtly smooth fashion. It’s no surprise, then, that his recordings are essentially as natural as the early style recordings—as in, minimal reverb, virtually no overdubbing, and occasional accompaniment. For his new LP, Tracks, it’s all about his resonator guitars, which are featured in ten of the eleven tracks ranging from instrumental tunes to his own vocal accompaniment. It’s a solo acoustic set with self-penned tunes matched to a variety of songs by Mississippi Fred McDowell, Irving Berlin and Bobby Charles. Mike Dowling Album Release Concert, 8 p.m. Friday at Dornan’s. $20 at Valley Bookstore, The Liquor Store and Dornan’s (733-2415).