Mark Cameron is from Minnesota. He began performing in folk rock bands in the early seventies. In 1984 Cameron founded the twin cities based “Citizen’s Patrol”. Between 1986 and 1990 that band released three albums. Mark turned his focus to the blues and finally released his solo debut “Life of Illusion” in the fall of 2008. Cameron’s follow up recording was 2011’s “Built to Bust”. His last studio recording was 2014’s “One Way Ride to The Blues”.
“Playing Rough” is Cameron’s fourth album. It was recorded in Minneapolis at the Bathtub Shrine Recording Studios in September 2015. The band consists of Cameron, guitar and vocals; Sheri Cameron, flute; Bill Keyes, harmonica; Scott Lundberg, bass; and Dan Schroeder, drums. Guest musicians include Jason Craft, keyboards; Scott Sansby, washboard; and backing singers Sara Renner and Tania Hughes. All songs were written by Cameron. The album is produced by Nick Salisbury.
Cameron is a good songwriter. He opens the album with “Doctor in The House” an infectious blues rocker. Both Keyes on harp, and Cameron on guitar, take impressive solos. Cameron sings “need a nurse not a medic” and then asks the question “Is there a doctor in the house? Cause the blues is goin’ round!”
Cameron’s guitar and the band get funky on “Somewhere down the Line” as Renner and Hughes join in on the refrain.
“Bluesmans Lullaby” is a tribute to B.B. King. Cameron still has a bit of folk rock in him but it’s refreshing. Keyes’ harmonica, Shari’s flute, and Lundberg’s bass line are all a perfect fit.
“Almost” features Craft on organ and piano. “Rusty Old Model T” features Cameron on slide guitar.
“Morning After, and it lasts for days”, “Done Me Wrong”, the title track “Playing Rough” and the closer “Borrowed Time”, are all well written and well executed songs.
Cameron delivers an enjoyable recording combining blues with a softer sound.