Mick Kolassa and Mark Telesca are bluesmen to the core, who have been honing their craft for decades. Through constant touring, releasing albums, and appearing as sidemen on countless albums released by friends, they have achieved the respect of their peers and a degree of commercial success.
They engaged in an impromptu jam session at the 2016 Blues Music Awards. They fused the blues with a number of Beatles songs. That ultimately led to their new album You Can’t Do That, which are acoustic blues versions of 11 songs by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
Kolassa and Telesca are both guitarists and vocalists, but they added additional guitarist and album producer Jeff Jenson to the mix, which gives the music extra depth and textures. They then added a harmonica here, a fiddle there, and even a trumpet to fill in the gaps.
It is a tight album as they stay true to the length of the songs. They improvise within the structure of the compositions and do not go on any extended journeys.
They also delve a little deeper into the Beatles catalogue. They chose songs that were adaptable to their style of blues rather than just selecting their best-known songs. “I’ll Cry Instead,” “Fixing A Hole,” “She’s A Woman,” and “Mean Mr. Mustard/Polythene Pam” are perfect for their bluesy guitars and intricate picking.
They are more adventurous on some of the Beatles up-tempo numbers. “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Lady Madonna,” and the title track are twisted out of shape, plus they play with the tempos.
Mick Kolassa and Mark Telesca have managed to recreate a number of Beatles songs in ways that have not been previously explored, which is quite an achievement in itself after all the years. You Can’t Do That is worth a listen for any fan of the Beatles or the blues.