“When it comes to singing and playing authentic blues music in Maine, nobody does it better than Derrick Semler.” – Ellsworth American
Brooksville-based guitarist and songwriter Derrick Semler draws on a lifetime of experience in American blues. He honed his guitar and vocal chops playing smoke-filled bars and dance halls back in the 1970s with the Soulbenders, the Soulbenders, backing up famed bluesman J.D. Nicholson, who for years was a fixture of the West Coast blues scene. And after moving to Brooksville in the early 1980s, he’s been at it ever since.
From the first guitar licks of the opening number, “Got to Find My Baby,” to the closing chords of “Love Takes You by Surprise,” it’s clear that Semler is no pretender when it comes to the blues. The music is, by turns, smooth, gritty and raw. And it’s always rhythmic and compelling.
Whether it’s the 6/8 rhythm of “Blue Eyes,” with its sweet guitar solo sandwiched between Semler’s vocals, or the straight-ahead blues feel of “Gigs to Play,” the album’s only all-instrumental tune, every song fairly begs listeners to put on their dancing shoes and get out on the floor.
Semler’s prodigious guitar skills are always very much in evidence, and Coon’s harmonica provides the perfect foil as it weaves in and out of almost every melody. The album also features contributions by some of Semler’s musical friends, including David Raitt’s harmonica on the opening track and Nate Childers’ lovely tenor saxophone on the slow blues ballad “Love Takes You By Surprise.”
If, like many Mainers, you’re already a fan of Semler’s blues, his most recent recording should be right up your alley. It’s blues by someone who’s lived it and it doesn’t get any better than this.