Shoot Out at the OK Chinese Restaurant
First Appeared in The Music Box, December 2002, Volume 9, #12
Written by John Metzger
Released overseas two years ago, Ramsay Midwood’s oddly titled Shoot Out at the OK Chinese Restaurant has finally seen the light of day in America. It’s a strange thing — blues artists, such as Midwood, often find greater success across the Atlantic than in the country with which their style is uniquely identified. And the funny thing is that Midwood isn’t even the most hardcore of blues musicians.
Instead, his songs crawl through the classic rock styles of Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, The Band, and Pigpen-era Grateful Dead. Yet, despite a lengthy list of accompanists and instrumentation that runs the gamut from fiddle and trumpet to harmonica and banjo, each track is rustic in nature, carrying the ambient ideas of these ’60s icons back to their predecessors. It’s no wonder, then, that Midwood has often been compared to Tom Waits, for it’s Waits’ ability to simultaneously set his music in two eras — early and present-day America — from which Midwood draws the most influence. As he tells his tales of wayward outsiders down on their luck, the songs creak along like dust-bowl dirges from the pen of Woody Guthrie, and he does it all with just enough rock 'n' roll swagger to hold the interest of most roots-rock fanatics.
Shoot Out at the OK Chinese Restaurant is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2002 The Music Box