Diggin’: Dr. Dixon and Harvey Dalton Arnold’s “Rollin’ and Tumblin’”

inNewson November 14, 2013


Listen: Dr. Dixon and Harvey Dalton Arnold’s “Rollin’ and Tumblin’”

The past few days we’ve been welcoming Dr. Dixon, Bh.D, into the Music Maker family, and what better way to kick off our new relationship than introducing him to one of our favorite artists, Harvey Dalton Arnold. Several nights ago the two met in our studio, and the following night Harvey came right back with his guitar in hand. They instantly fell into place beside each other, harmonica and guitar riding all the way from a Muddy Water’s blues tune to a gospel standard.

Of all the tracks we recorded, perhaps their rendition of the blues standard “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” exemplifies the skill and nuance with which Doctor and Harvey can play together.  Throughout the track, they’re right on top of each other, their dynamics shifting in and out in rhythmic breaths and punches.  Harvey’s virtuosity on the slide guitar translates into raw Delta twangs and lulls that carefully shadow Doctor’s lead on the harmonica and vocals, which themselves swell and fade in the same relentless fashion, catching a note on every breath in and out.  Just as soon as they come in together, they fade out again, the music heavy and rough on the exteriors, but still in perfect control.

Like all great blues music, this track proves that all you need is a handful of chords, or even just one, the beauty of such performances emerging from the details. For most of the song Doctor and Harvey return to that same beginning phrase, but each time they pull and push in a new way.  Through the moans of his harmonica you can hear the song’s narrator crying all night, wishing, as many of us probably have, that “If the river was whiskey, and I was a diving duck / I would dive to the bottom / never would I come up.”

— Intern Thomas

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