I was going through hard times some twenty years ago when my brother Joe gave me a portable cassete player and a few blues tapes, which included, as I recall, recordings by Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and an album titled Voodoo Garden by a northwest artist I hadn’t heard of, Tom McFarland. Tom’s smooth jazzy voice and regional theme were a very soothing remedy for “the blues.” I can’t say that it carried me through it, but it was one of the few pleasures I had in painful times.
Tom never caught on away from the west coast, but he was very big in Portland, where he founded the Waterfront Blues Festival. His recordings for Flying Heart Records have been hard to find since his death in 2004 but can be ordered by mail. His first album, Travelin’ with the Blues, can be purchased at many places online. Here’s a little taste of the gift Tom offered: