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Hector Qirko Imaginary Bands

Field Notes – 2015 (hq & Blind Guru Recordings)

Reviewed by Kevin Oliver

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CDs by Hector Qirko Imaginary Bands

Occasional sideman for Knoxville, Tenn. bard R.B. Morris, singer-songwriter and guitarist Hector QIrko moved from the Blue Ridge to the South Carolina Lowcountry a while back to teach at the College Of Charleston. His new solo album was largely recorded in Charleston using local players such as fiddler/mandolinist Roger Bellow and bassist Kevin Crothers, and it combines the spiritual side of Morris with a relaxed blues-folk vibe that befits QIrko's current coastal climes.

Sometimes a performer can be great without being over-the-top, overbearing or overly noticeable; Qirko is that subtle breed of bluesman who can blend the vocal passion of John Hiatt with a low key playing style that's supportive and special without being flashy enough to distract from the real point here, the songs. Ramshackle tunes such as "Living In the Country" recall The Band or "Workingman's Dead" era country rock, while "See You On the Other Side" and "Christmas in Bethlehem" offer up a sardonic, John Prine kind of spirituality.

He indulges his guitar-picking side on a couple of instrumentals including the gorgeous "Chicolita Rag" that features Qirko playing everything but the bass line of Daniel Kimbro, and there are a couple of covers - Cowboy Jack Clement's "Guess Things Happen That Way" and the bluegrass and old-time traditional tune "More Pretty Girls Than One." Those two choices illustrate Qirko's tendency to incorporate multiple styles into his repertoire, something "Philosophy" spells out even more succinctly.

"Let me tell you about my philosophy, it's not much but it will do for me," he begins in a general approximation of a Leon Redbone drawl, continuing with "I'd rather take a chance, embarrass myself than never make a move."

Qirko's move to the coast has been a good one for both him and fans of his bluesy take on Americana, if this new set of songs is any indication.