Two great voices, a guitar, and a dobro is all it takes for Bettysoo and Doug Cox to knock it out of the park with their latest CD, Across The Borderline: Lie To Me. Bettysoo’s voice is strong, feminine, and mesmerizing, and Doug Cox’ guitar riffs are a perfect complement, soulful, tight, and clear. The CD a set of well chosen covers that highlight the duo’s strengths and range from old-school Doug Sahm to more modern fare like Jane Siberry. Highlights for me are “Lie To Me,” and “Boxcars.”
Don't let their reputation fool you, Travels With Charley is far more than a bluegrass, dobro playing band from the Great White North. Their latest release, proves the versatility of its three members: singer Jackie Janzen, singer/guitarist/songwriter Steve Mitchell and dobro wizard Doug Cox. They've performed all over Canada and now it's time to get them to expand their horizons so we in the states can have the privilege of seeing them live.
Filled with many surprises, this well-produced album runs the gamut from the bluegrass and folk of the back hills to the soul of the South. It is the strength of Jackie Janzen's versatile vocals, however, which bring the listener into the fold and make TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY a group to be reckoned with. She can go from twangy bluegrass to throaty blues to an earthy folk sound in the blink of an eye. So it's no surprise that she is compared to such popular divas as Joni Mitchell, Janis Joplin and Aretha Franklin. Janzen is blessed with a sweet, natural sounding voice. Her vast range of tone and emotion also includes just enough gravel to bring us down to earth.
If Jackie is the "soul" of the group, Steve Mitchell is the "backbone." He writes most of the lyrics on the album. He has a clever sense of wit and wisdom while his rhythm guitar and vocals complement each song without being intrusive. Steve and Jackie handle most of the lead vocals for the group.
Through it all is Doug Cox. His Dobro accents each song just enough, drawing you into the depth of the group's music, taking you to a different place with each song. Doug is the core or the "heart" of TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY, his inimitable stylings entrusting the group to its own unique yet traditional sound. Cox's expertise on the Dobro rates right up there with the best of them. He can make the dobro wail or caress, and it's his dobro that sets the course for this musical journey.
"On July 24, 2007, I sat quietly, a spider on the wall, while Doug Cox and Sam Hurrie cut an album in a day. Not just an album, but one of the best and tightest and purest records in even their illustrious careers." Two Veteran bluesmen who've been friends so long, telepathy is effortless by now - playing in a spot so beautiful and acoustically rich it reinspires them with what Buddhists call Beginners Mind. The real deal on strings of steel." Spider Robinson
Doug's first CD release.
...a brisk kick of genius... -- Jurgen Gothe - The Financial Post
...a statement of Cox's versatility and his growing command of the dobro... -- Offbeat Magazine
Cox's version of Duke Ellington's Caravan is unbelievable -- Dirty Linen Magazine
This delightful debut is eclectic in an utterly unforced way... genuine back-porch music -- The Georgia Straight
a tasty eclectic stew of Cox originals and unique cover choices with a variety of ethnic ingredients -- Country Wave
Anela and Doug played together as the Pacific Poi Boys and started to work on an album together.
Here's a little sampling from then.
Sailing - (the Christopher Cross song, played on Dobro and Guitar)
The One They Call Hawaii - (A Song Anela contributed to the duo from his original home Island)
Dance With Me - (The song Orleans had a hit with back in the 70's done up for two guitars!)
Named one of the top CDs of the year by Acoustic Guitar and Downbeat magazine, the music is akin to some of the instrumental, folk-jazz hybrid that Windham Hill records became famous for, only with a bit more edge. An exceptionally high amount of 6-string virtuosity is evident from Cox and Butler.
Cox hits every style the dobro can accommodate with its acoustic slithering, including blues with Long John Baldry, newgrass with Tony Trischka, David Grier and John Reischman, cowboy poetry with Diamond Joe White, as well as hard rock and mellow folk. The common thread is that he hires the best players for each style, and with Cox being among the most expressive of dobro players, the results are stunning. David Duckman The Chicago Tribune
Doug Cox approaches the Dobro as an undiscovered instrument and explores its potential as if he had just been given the very first prototype. Unafraid to fuse Classical elements with both Eastern and Western influences, bluegrass, pop, jazz and what you might possibly expect to hear on Mars, Cox handles each investigation with a sensitive touch and precise execution. Like most of us, Doug Cox first heard Jerry Douglas over twenty years ago and was instantly aware of the potential of using the Dobro as much more than an instrumental fill-in, but as a bone-fide lead instrument in its own right. On WITHOUT WORDS, Cox hand picks some of his previously recorded work and presents the thirteen pieces as a compact package of instrumental gems, some self-written, some by others, but each in this context very much his own. While My Guitar Gently Weeps borrows from the original acoustic demo of the song George subsequently chose to rock-up with Clapton for the glorious WHITE ALBUM. It sounds pretty much like Union Station emoting sublimely in between takes, whilst Alison gives her tonsils a break. A gorgeous version of one of the Fab's most underrated tunes. Tackling Duke Ellington on a modified guitar and metal slide would in other hands possibly be reduced to novelty value only, but with the dexterous handling of Caravan as a bluegrass number challenging the old jazz guard in a sort of feuding banjos manner, is nothing short of inspired. The strangled cornet solo, courtesy of Daniel Lapp, comes across as a duel of sorts between Western music of two distinctly original styles. Joe Zawinul's Birdland again boasts a valid relationship between jazz and bluegrass, with some delightful musical syncopation between Doug's Rayco Resophonic and Sam Hurrie's guitar. The Indian Classical music influenced Letter Home shows the remarkable relationship between the Dobro, a typically Western instrument and the Indian version of the slide guitar, the Satvik Veena, played here by its creator and leading exponent Salil Bhatt. As a meditative piece of resonant music, complete with tabla, we find Cox comfortably engaging in a musical experience a world away from bluegrass, but strangely fitting in with it dove-tail like. The Circle Game reminds us once again what a beautiful melody Joni Mitchell's song has, even without the words. Try though as I will, I cannot help singing along to it. It's strange to have an entirely instrumental album with so many fine words. For newcomers to Doug Cox's music, Without Words offers a fine introduction to the instrumental side of his recorded output, covering his collaborations with Todd Butler, Sam Hurrie, Salil Bhatt and on the George Harrison song, one other local hero, Clive Gregson.” - Allan Wilkinson — Northern Sky
Doug Cox approaches the Dobro as an undiscovered instrument and explores its potential as if he had just been given the very first prototype. Unafraid to fuse Classical elements with both Eastern and Western influences, bluegrass, pop, jazz and what you might possibly expect to hear on Mars, Cox handles each investigation with a sensitive touch and precise execution.
On WITHOUT WORDS, Cox hand picks some of his previously recorded work and presents the thirteen pieces as a compact package of instrumental gems, some self-written, some by others, but each in this context very much his own.
For newcomers to Doug Cox's music, Without Words offers a fine introduction to the instrumental side of his recorded output.
Tracks: Wrapped Around Your Finger, Louise, Rain On, The Circle Game, Easy Place To Be, Birdland, Red Haired Raga, Fish Pond Holler, Caravan, Getting Ready, Letter Home, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Closing Credits
The third album by the Canadian dobro wizard primarily offers agreeable, laid-back blues epitomized by the hammy title track, a vocal duet with Amos Garrett. Hearing the reggae tune "Johnny Too Bad" played on dobro is a pleasant surprise. Besides a tasteful selection of covers by Leadbelly, Blind Blake, Memphis Slim, and even Mel Tormé, Doug Cox plays four of his own tunes. The goofy "My First Bike" is a striking contrast to "The Blues Came to Canada," a lengthy litany of injustice in a country not known as a blues hotbed.