You are here: Home Reviews

Reviews

For more than two decades Croatian harmonica player Tomislav Goluban has done an endless work on a tenacious effort to make blues popular in his native Croatia. Besides performing regularly in this country, in Europe and even in USA, he is founder of Etno Blues Festival which takes place in his home region northwest Zagreb and he also hosts a national radio show. This is the eighth studio album with twenty-one songs that combine his country traditional and popular music with blues and world music. Most songs have the particularity to gather a series of very original instruments as bagpipe, double flute, tambura, violin, mandolin or even more exotic ones like tapan, daf, darbuka or udu drum. The album becomes an imaginative example of how to mix popular music of that particular European area with the blues and, in this way, end in a totally new sound completely different of what we are used to listen. More than thirty musicians have participated in these twenty-one songs that will surprise more than one. This is a highly recommended recording for world folklore and harmonica blues lovers. VERY GOOD.
LA HORA DEL BLUES March 28th, 2017 (Spain), Vicente Zumel

Tomislav Goluban a horvát blues zenei élet meghatározó alakja. Szájharmonikázni 1997-ben kezdett, többek között Sonny Terry-t, Slim Harpót és Paul Butterfieldet tartja példaképének. Részt vett a 2005-ös trossingeni World Harmonica Festivalon, ahol negyedik helyezést ért el. Két alkalommal képviselte hazáját az International Blues Challenge-n. Az első memphisi útja során a Sun Studióban mindössze két óra leforgása alatt rögzítette a $200 SUN Memphis Album című lemezt. Tavaly jelent meg pályafutása nyolcadik stúdióalbuma, a Kaj Blues Etno. Ahogy a cím is sugallja, a lemezen több zenei stílus, Goluban szülőföldje, Zagorje tradicionális muzsikája, a blues és az ethno képviselteti magát. A figyelemre méltó, huszonegy dalt felvonultató korongon nem kevesebb, mint negyven zenész közreműködött. Közülük a legismertebb Mike Sponza és Nebojsa Buhin neve. Mindkét gitáros szerepelt már Goluban korábbi lemezein, mi több, a Bjelovarban született zenésszel közös albumot (For A Friend & Brother) is készített. A kiváló hangszerelési ötletekkel teli, változatos felépítésű számok többsége a szájharmonikás nevéhez köthető, de néhány tradicionális darab is hallható a lemezen. Az utóbbi csoportba tartozik a nyitó Na Zagorskom Brijegu, melynek érdekessége, hogy a vallásos témájú Down By The Riverside zenéjéhez Goluban írt horvát nyelvű szöveget. A vonat örök inspirációs forrásként szolgál számára, az új anyagon a Vlak Vozi című szerzemény foglalkozik ezzel a témával. A dalhoz egy szórakoztató videoklip készült, amiben fa játékvonat szimbolizálja az igazi vonatot, mint központi motívum.
BLUES VAN February 3rd, 2017 (Hungary)

Blues from the Croatian Heartland
Tomislav Goluban is one of the best harmonica players in Central Europe. His album Kaj Blues Etno divides the musical pieces into three types. Kaj makes reference to Kajkavian, which is a Croatian dialect from Zagorje in Central Croatia. Here, Goluban delivers a mix of Kajkavian pop and folk combined with jazz. The Blues songs are pretty self-explanatory. In this set, Goluban plays songs in Croatian and instrumentals in a delta and country blues format, with notable harmonica solos. The last set, titled Etno, is what we would call world music or world fusion. Goluban performs traditional and original pieces where he combines blues with jazz and folk music. And, even though blues has been performed in many languages other than English before, the novelty here is that Tomislav Goluban incorporates traditional Croatian musical instruments into the mix such as tambura, bagpipe, and a few others.  Kaj Blues Etno includes numerous guests although the backbone of the band consists of Tomislav Goluban on harmonica, vocals; Adalbert Turner, Hana Hegedušić, Nikola Santro, Ivana Kurs Podvorec on vocals; Mike Sponza on guitar; Damir Halilić Hal on mandolin, guitar; Miroslav Evačić on tambura; Toni Starešinić on keyboards; Marko First on violin; Stjepan Večković on bagpipe, double flute; Damjan Grbac on double bass; and Branko Trajkov on percussions. Two ensembles also participate in the recording, the Zagrje Brass Quintet and Ansambl Zabok. Tomislav Goluban is a prominent Croatian blues harmonica musician, who has been playing for two decades. He does solo, duo and full band performances. Goluban has won several of Croatia’s most prestigious annual national music awards. He’s the founder of the ethno blues festival in his home region of Zagorje, northwest 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.

WORLD MUSIC CENTRAL November 14th, 2016 (USA) Angel Romero   

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)

“Discover this great blues harp blower from Croatia!“
Tomislav Goluban from Zagorje, is a Croatian blues musician, singer and harmonica player. He is primarily a blues harmonica player and has been doing this since 1997 and now also live on multiple albums. The first album he recorded with the "Little Pigeon's ForHill Blues" band. From 2010 he also draws the studio to work solo. Goluban seeks his inspiration amongst others by Sonny Terry, Slim Harpo, Paul Butterfield, Gary Primich and Kim Wilson. For other biographical information, I refer everyone to his website, which is unfortunately not always translated into English. You are notified in other words. In a studio in Tugonica in Hrvatska, Croatia is the sixth and latest album "Blow Junkie" by Tomislav Goluban recorded. It is an album with no less than sixteen, all but one original tracks. For his new album, he gave Lovro Sicel help (guitar), Aleksandar Vesic (bass), Igor Vugrek (drums) and Nebojša BUHIN (tremolo guitar) .Eric Needs and Joe Filisko, two fellow harpists, helped him in writing the songs.
 "Harp Rockin '," a short instrumental rocker opens the album. For most of the songs written Goluban both the text and the music. For some songs, such as "what's in a name" boogie "Blow Junkie Boogie", the sultry "Electric Lights" and the title song "Blow Junkie" wrote fellow songwriter (an American living in Croatia - not to be confused with the real! ) Robert Lon Johnson texts. "Gambler's Blues" typifies almost "normal" singing Goluban and also allows guest guitarist Nebojša BUHIN, which has hung around a tremolo guitar, hear. PS. Note here also as the message of the singer! Then there's "On The Roof" with Lovro Sicel, which opens on his cigar box, which provides the necessary slides. And, "by the way" in the South need to be, because they dance on the roof. For the jazzy track "Blues For Mother Earth" Goluban blowing a chromatic harmonica, to then continue with a second (short) instrumental "Boogie 44". "Drivin '& Ridin'" is equally funky and is a tribute to "your machine". Goluban continues with another boogie "Forhill's Boogie" and before that literally drops his voice an octave. Ditto goes for "Two Rockets" to pause after a slow blues "Until The Morning Comes"; whereby the listener after all that dancing, just do not fall into limp. Third and penultimate instrumental "Freedom King" (the quiet campfire valve "Springtime Fever" is the last). Mel London's "Messin 'With The Kid" (as he does often) Goluban's tribute to one of his predecessors ligustere. The song, a blues standard, we also know from Junior Wells and Muddy Waters, is attributed to Mel London, who was also the owner of 'Chief Records. We conclude the review with "Speedin 'Train", which was already known in Croatia in a pop version.
Tomislav Goluban can call itself a true "Blow Junkie". With this great harmonica blues album, you can get acquainted with blues from Croatia, a country where you do not really expect blues and roots music. Let yourself be sure to check surprise by Tomislav Goluban - Lovro Sicel - Aleksandar Vesic - Igor Vugrek & Nebojša Buhin!
ROOTSTIME - Eric Schuurmans, August 2015 (BELGIUM)


It is s not common to find a Croatian musician who plays blues. This is the case of Tomislav Goluban, a singer and harmonica player who is totally passionate by his work, his instrument and everything that smells blues. Thanks to his deep love for blues, his sense of humour and his stage presence, he always gives a show full of conviction that in Croatia attract an eclectic audience, which enthusiastically follow his music and immediately connect with him. Goluban began to blow the harmonica in 1997, thanks to the deep impression he had listening to the recordings of artists like Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Slim Harpo, Paul Butterfield, Gary Primich, Kim Wilson and Joe Filisko. From then on, both in solo/duo or in a band format, Tomislav has played in some of the most prestigious European blues festivals. He has already published six albums where he has included a wide variety of styles such as Delta, country blues, zydeco, rock and roll and even world music. In this sixth and last work Tomislav comes back to his roots with a blues rock music spiced with Americana, only performed with bass, guitar, drums, vocals and harmonica. This is an album where Goluban wants to prove the audience that a simple instrumentation is not incompatible with good songs and music. VERY GOOD.
LA HORA DEL BLUES - Vicente Zumel, July 2015 (SPAIN)


Croatian musician Tomislav Goluban has been playing harp since 1997 and finds his inspiration among US players such as Paul Butterfield, Kim Wilson and Gary Primich. Two contemporary harp players, Joe Filisko and Eric Noden are credited for their assistance with songwriting on this CD. The material is all original bar one cover and was mainly written by Tomislav, with assistance on four songs by expat American Robert Lon Johnson (not that Robert Johnson) who lived and played in Croatia for a period of time and collaborated with Tomislav. The band is Tomislav on harp and vocals, Lovro Sicel on guitar and B/V, Aleksandar Vesic on bass and Igor Vugrek on drums. Additional guitar on one track is by Nebojsa Buhin.
The CD opens with an instrumental appropriately entitled “Harp Rockin’”. “Blow Junkie Boogie” follows with some dirty slide work underneath the harp, a solid boogie rhythm being maintained throughout. From the lyrics we gather that the ‘blow’ that interests Tomislav is through his harp, not illegal substances! Tomislav sings in quite a deep voice with an accent but the lyrics are perfectly understandable on most tracks; it is only really when Tomislav tackles the cover song that one really hears the difference as the lyrics are so familiar.
“Electric Lights” drops the pace a little and “Gambler’s Blues” is an attractive tune with some echoey guitar from guest Nebojsa and some good picking by Lovro as Tomislav recounts the story of an addiction to the tables, as well as taking a solid solo on harp which also complements that echoey guitar sound. “On The Roof” ups the pace with some cigar box slide work as Tomislav tells us about people “dancing on the roof” after he “moved down south to play some blues” – one of the standout tracks here. “Blues For Mother Earth” bears some similarity lyrically to the Memphis Slim song but is wrapped up in a breezy pop tune that talks of ‘peace and love’ with some more good picking from Lovro and harp by Tomislav. The instrumental “Boogie 44” acts as an intermission on the album at the half way point with Tomislav playing brightly over the foot-tapping rhythm.
“Drivin’ And Ridin’” is a funky tune about…driving around in a car! Another boogie number entitled “Forhill’s Boogie” precedes “Two Rockets”; on both these songs Tomislav sings in a deeper voice which does not always make for easy understanding. “Two Rockets” borrows a little from “Bullfrog Blues” in its lyrical structure but whips along enjoyably. The band drops the pace for “Until The Morning Comes”, Tomislav’s harp having something of a campfire feel as befits a tune with a country feel.
“Freedom King” is another instrumental with some tough harp on top of a rocking riff before the cover of Mel London’s “Messin With The Kid” appears. Tomislav feels that “every blues album must have at least one cover song to pay tribute to the legends”; this is his choice here and his playing is very good indeed. “Speedin’ Train” was apparently a pop hit in Croatia and Tomislav and his American friend RLJ translated it into English and to a blues idiom. As befits the title the track increases in pace and Tomislav produces some fine ‘train’ sounds on his harp. A second version of the title track, this time simply entitled “Blow Junkie” is set at a less frenetic pace than the first version earlier on the album. “Springtime Fever” closes the album with a laidback instrumental on which Tomislav hits some very low notes on the harp.
This was the first time that Croatian blues has crossed this reviewer’s path and it is good to hear the enthusiasm that people in countries distant from the USA have for the music we all enjoy. This album is well-crafted and recorded and deserves a listen. Good luck to Tomislav and his band in spreading the blues word in Croatia.
For a free track off this great album, check out our May Blues Overdose feature on soundcloud at https://soundcloud.com/bluesblast
Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK who enjoys a wide variety of blues and roots music, especially anything in the ‘soul/blues’ category. Favorites include contemporary artists such as Curtis Salgado, Tad Robinson, Albert Castiglia and Doug Deming and classic artists including Bobby Bland, Howling Wolf and the three ‘Kings’. He gets over to the States as often as he can to see live blues.
BLUES BLAST MAGAZINE - Issue 9-24 June11, 2015, John Mitchell (USA)


The other day when I was reviewing the Roots Music Reports latest Blues Chart I was intrigued by the album at number 49 Blow Junkie from Tomislav Goluban. First, I was taken aback by the album seemingly drug referenced title.But then I looked more closely at the album cover I saw the harmonica and then I understood! And then there was the artist’s name Tomislav sounds a little Eastern European to me. So I made a quick trip to Spotify. downloaded the album onto the iPhone and gave it a listen on a run to do some errands yesterday morning! From the opening songs “Harp’ Rockin'” and “Blow Junkie Boogie” this album;s good time feel had me;
Bottom Line: Blow Junkie is a terrific blues album from a great young blues artist from Croatia Tomislav Goluban, crisp blues harp with nice vocals and a good supporting cast! So Check It Out! As for me, I have five other Tomislav Goluban albums to check out!
Me Myself Music and Mysteries Ed Karn, May 16, 2015 (USA)


Tomislav Goluban’s 6th studio album doesn’t try to break any new ground in the blues rock world. The Croatian harmonicist sings and blows his harp over 16 traditional blues rock tracks, with a charming accent and broken english. The songs are typical blues formations, with simple, occasionally humorous lyrics, and plenty of instrumental solo breaks between the electric guitar, bass, and harmonica. Although Goluban’s playing is commendable, the production is peculiar, making the harmonica sound like it’s in the back of the mix while it’s supposed to be the main focus. Regardless, Blow Junkie is an easy-listening record with plenty to offer.
WYCE Ben, May 2015 (USA)


Tomislav Goluban – Blow Junkie (Menart/Spona): 6th release from veteran blues harp player / singer / songwriter Goluban from Croatia and part of a growing community of blues musicians from around the world. The style on this disc is straight ahead blues or blues rock. Goluban is an accomplished harp player and his group (Lovro Sicel on guitar, Aleksandar Vesic on bass, and Nebojsa Buhin on drums) is a tight outfit.  Don’t expect the flamboyant style many blues rock groups present however. These guys have plenty of chops, but don’t indulge in histrionics. Sicel’s slide guitar stands out particularly. Goluban sings in English and his accent takes a little getting used to, but this is a strong outing.
WTJU-FM University of Virginia, Apr 14th, 2015 | By Dave Rogers (USA)


The Croatian Tomislav Goluban combines a earth original harmonica, very juicy, to a blues rock boogie musical background like a contemporary Magic Dick. He contains the length of his compositions and his 16 tracks CD is pleasant to listen to, with a catcher on like "Blues for mother earth", not to mention the front cover!...
SOUL BAG, No.218/51 (April-June 2015)  (FRANCE)


Blow Junkie is the sixth album by this harmonica addict, and boy, he can sure play!...
Blues Matters Magazine, Merv Osborne, 2015 (UK)


"Blow Junkie" was really a great and pleasant surprise as it is a great album of good rocking blues, one of the best I heard from a European blues musician recently.
Massimo Ferro - "Highway 61" Radio Voce Spazio, 2015 (ITALIA)


... the overall result of the work of Tomislav translates into nearly an hour of great music , able to satisfy not only fans of the accordion but a much wider audience .
Luca Zaninello - IL Blues, 2015 (ITALIA)


...Accompanied by a solid group in place, we are the fairly short pieces offers , tied good, catchy and varied...
Ben Boulanger - "Juke Joint" Radio ARA, January 2015 (LUXEMBOURG)


And this is more in the album Blow Junkie earthiness, such as we are accustomed to in compelling and early blues-rock products of American musicians, who do not like loading and philosophizing and who love instantly and directly say what they think, and they do so loud .
Zdenko Matož, Delo, 2015 (SLOVENIA)


Croatia’s Tomislav Goluban is a true student of traditional American blues and rock. He deserves and “A” for “Blow Junkie.” It’s upbeat, clever and funny. It will put a smile on your face and tap in your toes. Creative take on “Messin’ with the Kid.” “Blow Junkie” is a nonstop party. I keep wondering when Tomi will come up for air!

Tim Parsons, Blues Festival Guide, December 2014 (USA)


From Croatia comes harmonica player, occasional singer and sometimes song-writer Tomislav Goluban, who gives us a powerful ambitious project with twelve inspired beautiful songs. Tomislav has managed to surround himself with a bunch of professional good musicians who have got level enough to make the record have high possibilities among Eastern Europe blue fans. All musicians involved have given the best of themselves. They have devoted to this project with all their hearts and souls, which becomes evident since the first notes of the opening cd song "Med Bregi". All tracks display an excellent orchestration and good arrangements too. You will find different instruments such as trombone, saxos, clarinet or tuba, as well as piano, organ, guitar, bass and drums. Musically speaking, you will find blues but also other influences from popular music, marches, or the most classic lyricism with vocal choirs. A different album from what is usually done I am sure will satisfy more than one. Ah!, and they also sing in Croatian. VERY GOOD.
Vicente P. Zumel, May 2013 (SPAIN), www.lahoradelblues.com


This is the fifth album from harmonica Master Tomislav Goluban. Featuring some amazing vocals, obscure sounds, chickens, whistles, lot’s of beautiful sounding instruments, and some really tasty harmonica. All vocals are sung in Tomislav’s Mother tongue Croatian. If you love World Music as I do this is sure to please, even if you’re not a listener of World Music, sure you will find this most pleasurable. What’s so beautiful, one can enjoy music from all parts of the world, not being able to comprehend a single word. But enjoy the vocal tone, and harmonies. For years listened to Dutch group Doe Maar, enjoyed  Edith Piaf, the odd Opera, never understanding a single word. But it’s the words, and language themselves that stand out like an amazing instrument all on their own, after all the human voice is the biggest most important instrument. There is a whole Carnival of sounds, neatly put together tickling the inner part of my ear drums like never before. A Magical composition, an album will certainly come back to time and time again.
Med bregi - Album review - Outstanding piece of music. 10/10
Shaun Monument-May,  October 31, 2012, London (UK) World Of Harmonica


Croatian young harmonica player and singer Tomislav Goluban who has recently participated in the I European Blues Contest organized by the EBU, brings us an interesting while selective job. The cd is basically focused to satisfy crazy harmonica fans, as harmonica and voice are the only instruments Tomislav employs along the cd, except in three songs that include James Lott on guitar, Eric Noden on guitar and vocals, Joe Filisko on harmonica and vocals and Matt Ross-Spang on piano. As just mentioned, the rest of the album only shows Tomislav Goluban playing harmonica and singing. Twelve cuts sung in English and Croatian plus some instrumental ones. Goluban has basically chosen his own repertoire, plus one Sonny Boy Williamson’s song ("Mighty Long Time"), two traditional ones (the classic "Amazing Grace" and "T- Train Live") and a song called "The Rakija Song" coming from John Kruth. A record specially devoted to harmonica 'freaks'.
Vicente P. Zumel, March 2011 (SPAIN), www.lahoradelblues.com


The blues are becoming a cottage industry in Croatia, it seems. First there was Miroslav Evačić, and now Goluban and his crew have made an appearance. He's a harp player, very much in the tradition of Sonny Terry and Little Walter, and he kicks things off to a fine, even virtuoso start with «T-Train Kick», where he gets to display his chops and set you up for an album of mouth harp playing. However, that's not quite what we get. There's some in there, but this is more about the songs, which at times become American blues refracted through an odd prism – Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore. So «See You Later Alligator» gets a bizarre falsetto interlude, for instance; «Jesus On The Mailnline» has a Johnny Cash makeover; and «Country Party» is just, well, quite odd. It's beguiling, and there's a certain innocence to it all. But make no misstake, these guys can play the blues, and there are some unusual juxtapositions, like the trumpet on «Brag to Brag» that takes the listener by surprise, but works wonderfully well. In case you're wondering about the band name, it's a sort of translation of the name for the area where the musicians live. So yes, it's all a little warped, and it would be great to hear Goluban work out on the harp a lot more than he does, but there's definitely something going on in the Croatian Delta.
SingOut! – Chris Nickson, 2009


I believe now, that, when Sonny Terry died, he was thinking on his way Up, well I got to send a little bit of my spirit to the Croatia, and it comes out in Tomislav Goluban.
Jostein Forsberg, Notodden Blues Festival, February 6, 2009, Memphis (USA)


Croatian harmonica is rarely heard and in the case of Tomislav, his main influence seems to be obvious. This sympathetic harp player follows Sonny Terry licks on many of the tracks on this CD. But still this is not strictly speaking a straight-ahead blues album. Instruments include, among others, a trombone. Genres vary from gospel to polka and a spinoff of Fleetwood Mac’s Albatross (3).
Many of the songs are performed in the artist’s native language even though they are listed in English. Finnish listeners will probably miss many delicious verbal nuances. A well known song (10) sees an acoustic version and here we can clearly hear the influence of Sonny Terry. So if you are looking for Bill Haley meets Sonny Terry in Croatian, this is your best bet. The harmonica playing here is excellent throughout the album and goes to show that this instrument is credible in all corners of the world.

Harri Haka, BLUES NEWS MAGAZINE, No. 233, 2008 (FINLAND)


“Mr. B.” is an outstanding, enlivening, and original blues album from Croatia's own Tomislav Goluban & Little Pigeon's ForHill Blues. This album is comprised of sixteen harmonica-led blues jams that incorporate acoustic and steel guitar, drums, kazoo, muted trumpet, and a plethora of other instruments to create consistently solid arrangements. The overall sound is truly original, combining an authentic Cajun/delta blues sound with elements particular to Croatian music, with lyrics sung in Croatian on the first half of the album and in English on the second half. The songs are all great, entertaining and enjoyable, with the harmonica driving each song and drawing from the likes of Hot Tuna and Sonny Terry. The recording quality is also quite good and a perfect fit for the type of sound Little Pigeon's ForHill Blues are trying to create. “T-Train Kick” introduces the album nicely with the harmonica and drums, perfectly imitating the takeoff of a train from a station. “Sv. Rok” is a slower track with Croatian lyrics that is backed by acoustic guitar, muted trumpet, and features a nice harmonica solo. “See You Later Alligator” shifts the album to a more American blues sound, with entertaining English lyrics, an absurd vocal range, and great vocal layering. Tomislav Goluban & Little Pigeon's ForHill Blues have crafted an enjoyable, memorable, and truly original blues album with “Mr. B.” Fans of delta blues with a Croatian flare, pick up this album and prepare to wear it out.
Chris & the RadioIndy.com, August 2008 (USA)

 

...a mix of American roots music, European sensibilities, spirited playing and a great sense of fun. It all adds up to a terrific original sound.
Tom Gray, July 2008 (USA), www.deltamoon.com

 

Their music blends together country blues and traditional Croatian sounds resulting in a CD that is fun and entertaining. If you love the blues but you’re fed up with the same old thing played the same old way get “Mr. B.” now.
CD Baby!, March 2008., cdbaby.com

 

“Little Pigeon” derives from Tomislav’s surname whilst ‘ForHill’ is an approximate translation of Zagorje, the Croatian area where the band comes from – and no, the music isn’t any more predictable either! This is an acoustic based set, centred around the leader’s excellent and sometimes very inpidual, mostly Sonny Terry but sometimes Walter Horton or Jimmy Reed inspired, harmonica playing and vocals mostly in Croat (listen to the rocking ‘0,5’). The other band members are Krunoslav Dobričević on guitars, Nikola Herceg on electric bass, and Nikola Santro trombone, electric piano and some odd sounding percussion!
This set is blues-based, and comes recommended by the late Philadelphia Jerry Ricks, who described it to the band as “the expression of your roots blended with ours”. There is a noticeable Croatian musical influence on some tracks, though the very mellow title instrumental betrays a little Fleetwood Mac ‘Albatross’ type of approach – and try the cover of ‘See You Later Alligator’ for something completely off-the-wall. ‘Polka Blues’ sounds like the kind of thing the Memphis Jug Band might have come up with had they been shipwrecked in eastern Europe in the seventies!
This is definitely a CD that has grown on me with each play – and in which I discover something new each time. Handsome packaging too. Need I state that this is not one for the purists but anyone with a sense of humour and an interest in an original approach to European blues should certainly investigate.

BLUESART, Norman Darwen, March/April 2008 (Austria), www.bluesart.at

 

Mr. B. is an engaging self-released disc from Croatian country blues group Little Pigeon's ForHill Blues. Tomislav Goluban is an accomplished unamplified harp player with a broad tonal palette capable of expressive melodic work («Mr. B.») and propulsive rhythms («T-Train Kick»). Krunoslav Dobricevic's acoustic guitar shifts between driving the band and adoring the music with bright, well-conceived leads. The rhythm section keeps things simple; drummer Nikola Santro does triple duty, turning in trombone and a vibes-like electric piano. The generally upbeat songs sport occasional pop flourishes («Sv.Rok», «Golden Fish»), and, while hearing blues sung in Goluban's native tongue is initially disorienting, his unaffected, emotional style quickly overcomes any objections.
Blues Revue, THE WORLD'S BLUES MAGAZINE, Dec/Jan 2008 (USA), www.bluesrevue.com

 

“Harmonica is a popular instrument in the blues. The problem is that most guys playing it are trying to re-create Little Walter’s Chicago sound or William Clarke’s West Coast feel forgetting about more traditional styles of harmonica playing. And this is the part where Tomislav Goluban comes in. Croatia’s no. 1 harp player sounds like he has spent hours listening to Sonny Terry’s records but, what’s even more important, building his own musical identity on a base provided by his master. Tomislav’s harmonica has a fat and full-bodied sound mixing so well with acoustic background provided by ForHill Blues. Their music blends together country blues and traditional Croatian sounds resulting in a CD that is fun and entertaining. If you love the blues but you’re fed up with the same old thing played the same old way get "Mr. B." now – country blues has never sounded so fresh!
Przemek Draheim, Polish Blues & Gosple Radio Host, October 2007 (Poland),  www.blues.pl/draheim

 

Little Pigeon has awaken and bravely emloyed his feet, sorry, wings! His endemic value should be recognized right on time and not, as it is common here, rumbled about it only when the birds are migrating to warm countries.
Zoran Stajcic, June 2007 (Croatia)

 

Listening to the Little Pigeon's ForHill Blues (Mr. B.) recording was a breath of clean air in a world of Blues that's lost a lot of originality. To hear the expression of my culture's music with the vitality of expression and Croatian feel is one of the reasons I think this CD understands and respects the concept of what we think Blues should be, not to be a carbon of a recording but the expression of your roots - blended with ours. The harmonica playing is truly original, Sonny Terry, Hamie Nixon, Tomislav Goluban - understanding and sympathy and respect. "Hats Off" to you guys!!
"Philadelphia" Jerry Ricks, May 2007 (1940.-2007.),
(USA), www.jerryricks.com

 

It may sound odd and uncommon, however the mere mention of the name Tomislav Goluban guarantees that I will fill-up my Siscia Jazz Club, even on a Thursday.
Damir Kukuruzovic, 28th December 2006 (Croatia)

 

The last day of the festival belonged to the blues players of Little Pigeon's ForHill Blues from Zabok. This is the first encounter with blues at the Cakovec festival and a success at that. The leader of the band Tomislav Goluban is a born entertainer, and among all those qualities he also plays the harp exquisitely well. A truly high-quality and inspiring performance kept the audience highly engaged and in high spirits.
Laci Varga, 12th International Jazz Fair Cakovec,
November 2006 (Croatia)

 

I had the great pleasure of meeting and hearing Tomislav perform at the World Harmonica Festival in Trossingen Germany 2005. Tomislav is a fine harmonica player that takes control of the stage and puts on a very energetic show. He was a pleasure to watch and would recommend anyone to see his entertaining show.
David Barrett, 9th November 2005
(USA), www.harmonicamasterclass.com

 

...the inpiduality of their performance is an honest, interesting, ingenious and devoted execution, which makes the concert a distinct experience... Lively reactions of the audience, which followed along majority of songs with rhythmic clapping – confirms the quality of performance of this band. It also provides a not too commonly seen way of creating positive connections, relationships and sensations, which stem through the confidant and authentic style of playing as well as commitment to generating a unique blues atmosphere.
Glas Istre, Mozaik, (D. Cukola Zeneral), 22nd July 2005 (Croatia)

 

Tomi Little Pigeon plays with a very unique style and it is good to see that he is keeping the Blues alive in Croatia! Good Stuff
Paul Lamb, 17th June 2005 (UK), www.paullamb.com

 

«Gentlemen, it was a pleasure to hear you during this April's VARAZDIN INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL and learn how you keep up the traditional blues and country music. We especially enjoyed the final jam session with you in the ground floor's Jazzclub. We wish you great success in the future. Keep swinging!»
Frank Sager (Trumpeter), for and on behalf of the whole band "TEDDY EHRENREICH JAZZBAND", 14th June 2005 (Vienna, Austria)

 

Enjoyed the show, nice country style blues with and original flair, the best I've seen in Croatia.
L.A. Jones, 20th May 2005
(Los Angeles, USA), www.lajones.com

 

....get to the “Factory of Culture”, where in a pleasantly filled hall a concert of Guy Davis and his trio was to be held. The prelude to the pinnacle of the evening was the performance of the opening band «Little Pigeon's ForHill Blues», local acoustic country-blues trio with a very distinct style and full of Zagorje spirit. Hat off to the guys, especially to the front man on the harmonica Tomislav Goluban, who knew how to effortlessly hype-up the crowd and round up ovations in return....
muzika.hr (Gasper Sopi, Vedran Jakovac), 8th April 2005 (Croatia), www.muzika.hr/default.aspx?id=4186

 

...fans of blues relaxed while waiting for the performance by Guy Davis, a New Yorker who began his career on theatre floor boards, only through inspiration of his grandfather's and parent's life's stories to later enter the blues waters. For the warm-up before his performance Little Pigeon’s ForHill Blues was recruited – a local country-blues trio, headed by Tomislav Goluban on harmonica and guitarist Ante Prgin. It just so happened that in their half hour performance they literally 'rocked' the place and gained all the support of the public. Genius and intellectual execution of classics from Robert Johnson, Big Bill Broonzy, Sonny Boy Williams and others they superbly combined with their own compositions, which they served it can freely be said to a surprised and unprepared public – which toward the end of their show applauded only longer by the minute and louder...
T-portal (Zoran Stajčić), 7th April 2005 (Croatia)

 

Due to the attractive performances, Little Pigeon’s Forhill Blues has captured the audiences at the B.P. Club, which has among jazz become a renowned place of the international blues music scene as well. Among a rare few others, this trio is slowly breaking new ground and taking on the role of a pioneer of blues in the country. Movingly, sensationally and with a great deal of feeling for blues they perform their own compositions, however not disregarding the tradition – relying greatly on the important blues legends such as Robert Johnson, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee and others. Although while listening to the album you cannot see the spark in the eye, the expression of pure enthusiasm, or a twisted body in the swing of music, which all contribute to the authenticity and appeal of their performances, you will without a doubt feel the devotion and passion of these guys who feel and live the blues.
Davor Hrvoj, 24th February 2005 (Croatia)

 

Tomislav Goluban and his trio were brought to the B.P. Club (with my blind compliance) by its manager Jozo Bartolović. He consistently informed me of their successful performances in the club and thus managed to finally convince me to include them in the program “Century of Blues’ festival 2005. There and then I at last heard them live and I understood Jozo’s enthusiasm. Quite a few blues bands play around this region of the country, however not one (in my opinion) produces that much exhilaration and positive energy as does this trio comprised of Tomislav, Ante & Nikola. It's a real, authentic Zagorje (ForHill) kitchen, (of course with a touch of Ante's Dalmatian flair). I would like to extend a special thank you to Tomislav and the guys for inviting me to play as an (almost real) drummer with them in my own club! To sum it up, Zagorski ‘for-hill’ blues - ‘pigeons’  instead of letters spread abroad high spirited, lively blues. Cheers!
Boško Petrović, 9th February 2005 (Croatia)

 

We encountered him for the first time in 2003, at the Harmonica Masters Workshop; a musician with the most gripping scenic performance we have ever seen. In retrospect, he didn't need to play even a note, everyone was already on their knees. His performance was unbelievably amazing!
Harp Online, 18th November 2004
(Germany), www.harponline.de

 

There has been less real blues in Croatia than men on the Moon, and that's what makes this album so valuable. I was thrilled with the fact that someone in this part of the world is in love with the original Mississippi blues. I had a great pleasure to spend some time on playing it with the guys.
Ivica Kostelić, 17th July 2004 (Croatia)

 

Little Pigeon’s plays and sings with strong passion and the occasional flash of humor. He is, without a doubt, my favorite Croatian blues player.
Joe Filisko, 8th July 2004 (Chicago, USA), www.filisko.com

 

Among millions of so-called Blues players it is hard to find some who are different, but you immediately know you did when you first hear the "Little Pigeon`s ForHill Blues" Duo! You can tell that these guys HAVE FUN doing what they do, and they know very well HOW to do it. A driving guitar and a helluva harmonica make you dance, and you are greatful that they give their own impressions to old songs and really spice them up. Great!
Thomas Kleemaier, 8th June 2004
(Germany), www.kleemaier.de

 

PS. Zagorje - a pleasant and peaceful hilly region in the north-west part of Croatia populated by high-spirited and hospitable people; that's where we live