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Review from Spain

Another cool review...this time from Spain, check it on review section

Winners of Croatian Blues Challenge!

Tomislav Goluban is a winner of 8th Croatian Blues Challenge!

KAJ BLUES ETNO - 8th release from Croatian harmonica player

Tomislav Goluban, an eminent Croatian blues harmonica musician, has been playing his music for two decades. Performing solo/duo or with a band, he has played in the United States and in some 20 European countries. Tomislav has won several of Croatia's most prestigious annual national music awards and debuted at #49 on the Roots Music Chart for the Week of May 13, 2015 with his 6th studio album titled Blow Junkie. With some of the tracks from this album Tomislav has since become a regular on the famous Sirius XM "BB King's Bluesville" program. He is the founder of the ethno blues festival in his home region of Zagorje, just north-west of the Croatian capital of Zagreb; he also works with young people, exposing them to the harmonica and music in general and hosts a blues radio show on the Croatian national radio station.

 On his 8th studio album Kaj Blues Etno, Tomislav Goluban delivers 21 tracks, showcasing some traditional Croatian (Zagorje) song sand instrumentals, and an abundance of new, self-penned material, resulting in a unique fusion of different genres and instruments. As its very title suggests, the album encompasses three themes – the traditional music of Tomislav's native Zagorje [using its native Kajkavian, or Kaykavian, dialect], the blues and ethno or world music.

 As many as forty musicians collaborated on Tomislav's new release; their outstanding musicianship and diverse musical talents proved to be a perfect vehicle for Goluban's ideas. By employing a range of musical instruments, among them bagpipe, double flute, tambura, violin, mandolin, tapan, daf, darbuka or udu drum, and by incorporating train and tractor sound effects, Tomislav creates songs that carryan instantly and fully recognizable, specific author signature.

 Kaj Blues Etno is a splendid example of the successful implementation of country/delta blues into (Kajkavian) Croatian language, giving birth to a completely ”new“ sound. With regard to Tomislav, though, this sound is anything but new. Those who follow him and know him well, know also that this has been his guiding idea, his leitmotif for years. This fusion of different musical expressions has taken impressive proportions. While some musicians can convincingly and credibly cover well-known blues standards, others are completely comfortable and confident with their improvisational skills. But what a few have attained is acreative blend of the above, and that is precisely what makes Kaj Blues Etno such an original, truly unique album.

The train has always been a source of inspiration for Tomislav; therefore, Riding the Train (Vlak vozi) is a fitting choice for the 1st single from the album. It thematizes transience, life in the fast lane, its ups and downs, the dark tunnels that eventually open up to new and sunny vistas. An entertaining video has been made (YT LINK) with a wooden toy train mimicking the real train as a central motif. Song begins with the blues harp imitating the train whistle. That whistle scream and the clickety-clack syncopation of the wheels can be heard in the preceeding track on the CD, titled Cug (Kajkavian for train), which will surely be enjoyed by many a train buff as well as many a blues fan. Because Tomislav does the train imitation on his harp real well!

TWOJ BLUES review (Poland)

TWOJ BLUES review Poland (No.64, spring 2016)

IL BLUES review (Italy)

IL BLUES review (Italy)


Just how far has the influence of this magazine’s favorite subject spread around the world? So far, yours truly has reviewed blues CD’s from Australia, Africa, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Israel, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, and the UK. Tomislav Goluban and Nebojša Buhin provide an exciting entry to this list: Croatia.
Their latest album on the Spona label, For a Friend & Brother, contains twelve instrumentals dedicated to Nebojša’s brother Dražen, who passed away in 2012. From the most excruciating loss a human being suffers can come some of the most beautiful art s/he can create. Yes, the blues IS beautiful, as Goluban and Buhin’s masterpieces prove. This duo knows the purpose of instrumental music is twofold: to set a mood, and to let listeners achieve a powerful emotional release in the absence of lyrics. Certain fans might ask, “Where’s the ‘baby, baby, baby’, or traditional rhythms we’re used to hearing?” No one will find any of that on this album, but never fear. Its blues is as pure as it comes.
Tomislav Goluban has been honing his harp skills since 1997, and his sixth studio album, Blow Junkie, debuted at #49 on the Roots Music Chart. “Nebo” Buhin has played in front of renowned guitar masters such as Johnny Winter and Greg Koch. Both of them have performed at International Blues Challenges in Memphis, TN. Hopefully, their names will be hailed far and wide in the U.S., because all of their songs on this rip-roaring CD deserve national airplay.
It boasts a staggering total of nineteen musicians – not only Goluban on harps and Buhin on guitars, but their compatriots as well: Vlado Simich Vava on slide guitar; guitarist Mike Sponza; bassist Mario Mikor; Jurica Štelma on double bass; Mladen Malek and Igor Vugrek on drums; keyboardists Jurica Leikauff and Goran Kovačić; pianist Bruno Krajcar, Toni Eterović on synth; Boris Šaronja and Zvonimir Bajević on trumpet; Robert Polgar on saxophone; Mario Šincek on trombone, Danko Burić on viola; Igor Križanić on kalimba; Darka Veronica Bisćan on violoncello; Lela Kaplowitz on backing vocals (track nine), and also on tap dance with Lucia Kaplowitz and Bojan Valentić.
It’s truly impossible to pick the best songs on this album, so let’s go 1-2-3, for simplicity’s sake:
Track 01: “Don’t You” – Haunting, melodic, and slow, the opener captures the angst of lost love without saying so out loud. Here, Goluban’s harp does all the talking, or should I say, screaming. Lovelier than that, however, is Boris Šaronja’s tantalizing trumpet. This is a song for long, cold nights alone, perhaps with a bottle of wine for sole company.
Track 02: “St. Martin” – Directly after that, it’s time for a throw-down boogie! Whoever says that string instruments have no place in the blues hasn’t heard Danko Burić’s va-va-voom viola. Perhaps the catchiest, however, is a bouncy bass backbeat, courtesy of Mario Mikor. Such a track is perfect for live shows, whether at outdoor festivals or indoor bars. Yee-haw!
Track 03: “Thunder Night” – Get ready to tell some ghost stories, blues fans, on a dark and stormy – well, you know. With an intro that would make Edgar Allan Poe as well as Stephen King proud, Goluban’s harmonica wails tales of specters past and gone. Jurica Leikauff’s keyboards add a psychedelic touch.
For a Friend & Brother is a monumental tribute to instrumental blues fans everywhere!
BLUES BLAST MAGAZINE - Rainey Wetnight, February 2016, ISSUE 10-8, (USA)

TOP 100 - 2015

"For A Friend & Brother" is No.90 on Blues In The South magazine (UK) editor's choice of the TOP 100 blues albums of 2015.