San Diego Troubadour
by Phil Harmonic
In 1956 Burt Lancaster starred in The Rainmaker. Some say the character was based on the real rainmaker, Charles Hatfield, who migrated to Southern California from the Midwest. In 1915 the city of San Diego hired him to fill the Morena Dam reservoir, offering to pay him $10,000. But after he made good on his promise, the city reneged and refused to pay him, the courts ruling the phenomenon an act of God and not of his doing. Rather than calling himself a rainmaker, Hatfield preferred the moniker Moisture Accelerator. In April 2001 the group named Hatfield Rain emerged - a nice tribute to the man who wasn't paid, but I would have chosen the name Hatfield favored. Well, maybe there's too much innuendo there.
Matter of Time, a new CD from the six-member group, is a blend of rock, country, blues, and jazz, with a diverse musical style inlaid with lyrics about changes, lost love, life's experiences, and dreams of what could be. The musicianship of band members Robert Fedeli (organ), Kyle Ince (lead guitar), Dawn Jackson (lead vocals), Bob Sheehan (drums), Ted Stern (pedal steel), and Mark Tucker (bass) is of the highest quality. All songs were written by Ince and/or Jackson, plus three with Ince collaborator Brian Sharkey, some of which have a rock feel and some country, etc. The instrumentation and vocals are both lush and full. "Heart of Me", a slow, bluesy lament highlighted by the pedal steel guitar, showcases Jackson's vocal and writing abilities. The feel, created by an atypical chord progression, makes it a great song. Former Usual Suspects' vocalist Sharkey wrote lyrics to Ince's "Don't Surrender Today", "I Mean Well", and "Angels on the Train". A quality lyricist, indeed. The use of violin, organ, pedal steel, and guitar are highly effective. But at times, as with any production, the sound can become a little too polished, making it come across so clean that the edge becomes rounded and along with it, a little bit of soul. I have a strong feeling that if you see and hear them live, you'd love them!