In the costume room of the King. Memphis.
Elsewhere by Graham Reid

music - travel - arts

Wide angle reviews, interviews and opinion by writer Graham Reid

Blues in Elsewhere

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Interviews, overviews and reviews of classic and contemporary blues musicians and music.

Lowell Fulson: Trouble Trouble, The Definitive Early Years Collection (Fantastic Voyage/Southbound)

Lowell Fulson: Trouble Trouble, The Definitive Early Years Collection (Fantastic Voyage/Southbound)

Sometimes the singer-guitarist Lowell Fulson (1921-99) recorded as Lowell Fulsom and even Lowell Fullsom, but he was born Fulson although the liner notes to this three CD set suggest where the variations came from. Fulson himself would adopt the various spellings for his own reasons (think: the taxman), but his grandfather was actually Henry Fulsom who was black freeman living with the... more >>

The Train is Leaving (1947)

DARCY PERRY PROFILED (2013): Long years and hard miles

DARCY PERRY PROFILED (2013): Long years and hard miles

Because of so many other pressing commitments, Elsewhere missed acknowledging the blues journeyman Darcy Perry when he played a few shows with his band during Blue September. But he has re-released digitally every track he had ever recorded along with two previously unreleased live albums. And there is also the new album Eleven Long Years, the title of which nods to just how long he... more >>

Blues for Earl

James Cotton: Cotton Mouth Man (Alligator/Southbound)

James Cotton: Cotton Mouth Man (Alligator/Southbound)

It's extraordinary to think that harmonica player Cotton played with Howlin' Wolf back in the early Fifties and then Muddy Waters, and at 77 he's not only still here but blowing up a hurricane on this album with high class fans like Joe Bonamassa, Gregg Allman, Chuck Leavell, Keb Mo, Ruthie Foster, Delbert McClinton and Darrell Nulisch. He's survived every phase of the fickle interest in... more >>

Midnight Train

Hugh Laurie: Didn't It Rain (Warners)

Hugh Laurie: Didn't It Rain (Warners)

Musicians can get very territorial when actors are perceived to be moving into their turf. People like Juliette Lewis, Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron have hardly been welcomed (sometimes with good reason) and so Hugh Laurie was met with some scepticism when he released his Let Them Talk (nice title!) a couple of years back. Clearly Laurie -- who sings and plays piano -- loved and... more >>

The Weed Smoker's Dream

Watermelon Slim: Up Close & Personal (Southern/Yellow Eye)

Watermelon Slim: Up Close & Personal (Southern/Yellow Eye)

Not only does white bluesman Watermelon Slim sound like the blackest 1940s blues player that ever was, but he's also has had an extraordinary life. Believable if you read it in a novel, but all true. Check out his backstory in this archival interview at Elsewhere and also have a look here for his music, then close your eyes as he transports to to Southern juke-joints or -- as on this... more >>

The Last Blues

Ben Harper, Charlie Musselwhite: Get Up! (Stax)

Ben Harper, Charlie Musselwhite: Get Up! (Stax)

To be honest, the first couple of times I saw Ben Harper I walked out being bored witless by a man I jokingly came to refer to as "Taj Marley" because he simply seemed to weld together the most crowd pleasing aspects of Taj Mahal and Bob Marley. I faithfully listened to his many albums down the years but only rarely found them genuinely interesting (and Eric Bibb was doing much... more >>

Blood Side Out

Dani Wilde/Victoria Smith/Samantha Fish: Girls with Guitars Live (Ruf/Yellow Eye)

Dani Wilde/Victoria Smith/Samantha Fish: Girls with Guitars Live (Ruf/Yellow Eye)

As mentioned about a previous album of this concept of gals with guitars, there's nothing like giving 'em what it says on the box. And yep, these three are blues-rock women with guitars and that Girls With Guitars label is a flexible membership (currently Cassie Taylor out, Victoria Smith in). This CD/DVD set is blues-based but this time the version of the Stones' Bitch which opens the CD... more >>

I Put a Spell on You

Joanne Shaw Taylor: Almost Always Never (Ruf/Yellow Eye)

Joanne Shaw Taylor: Almost Always Never (Ruf/Yellow Eye)

Until you are told otherwise, just on listening to this tough, sassy and earthy blues singer and fiery guitarist you'd assume she was black American, probably forged in the fires of Chicago clubs and constant touring down South. Almost right. She's blonde, British-born and now lives in Detroit. As noted about her earlier and excellent Diamonds in the Dirt, the States is her natural home... more >>

Maybe Tomorrow

Billy TK Jnr and the Groove Shakers: Blues Benediction (Southbound)

Billy TK Jnr and the Groove Shakers: Blues Benediction (Southbound)

You might think being the guitarist son of Billy TK -- whose name is usually preceded by the phrase "the legendary Maori guitarist" -- might be a serious hindrance to a career under your own name, but Billy TK Jnr long ago lit out on his own directions. While his dad drew favourable comparisons with Hendrix back in the late Sixties/early Seventies (in Human Instinct, later Ticket... more >>

Little Wing

Joe Louis Walker: Hellfire (Alligator)

Joe Louis Walker: Hellfire (Alligator)

From the opening title track this often incendiary album is a conflagration fed by tough blues, psychedelic guitar playing and Walker's frequently soulful voice. He reaches to the fist-tight Chicago style (I Won't Do That) but also invites in Elvis' backing group the Jordanaires for the raw testifying of Soldier for Jesus ("on the frontline fightin' the devil all the time") and... more >>

Soldier for Jesus

Oli Brown: Here I Am (Ruf)

Oli Brown: Here I Am (Ruf)

On the back of his 2010 album Heads I Win Tails You Lose, Elsewhere noted that while this young, hard-edged blues guitarist came up a little short in the originality stakes he was certainly one to watch because he delivered more than enough to be impressive. Still only in his early 20s, Englishman Brown of course has ample room to grow but this is yet another step up in his playing (and his... more >>

Mr Wilson

Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials: Jump Start (Alligator)

Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials: Jump Start (Alligator)

When Bruce Iglauer founded Alligator Records in Chicago 40 years ago it was to release albums by the likes of Hound Dog Taylor and Albert Collins who were burning up local clubs with their incendiary and tough minded playing. In 1986 singer-guitarist Lil' Ed and his band were invited to record a song but, treating the studio like stage, they stormed through a whole set which became... more >>

House of Cards

Joe Bonamassa: Driving Towards the Daylight (J&R Adventures)

Joe Bonamassa: Driving Towards the Daylight (J&R Adventures)

Gutsy, earthy and steeped in the blues, singer-guitarist Bonamassa seems an unstoppable force. He fires off albums under his own name (this his third in two years) and with Black Country Communion (two albums and double live in Europe in the same period). He also puts himself about as a guest player, and his album with leather larynxed Beth Hart, Don't Explain, got a favourable notice... more >>

Stones in My Passway

Ash Grunwald: Trouble's Door (Grunwald/Border)

Ash Grunwald: Trouble's Door (Grunwald/Border)

Australian Grunwald is a one-man dreadlocked folk, rock and boilied-up blues singer-guitarist, and live he certainly delivered well received sets at the recent Womad. But, as with so many Womad acts, he captures you in the moment but it doesn't quite translate on repeat encounters. I saw both of his sets and was blown away by the first and watched quite dispassionately at a repeat showing... more >>

Trouble's Door

Luther Allison: Songs From the Road (Ruf/Yellow Eye)

Luther Allison: Songs From the Road (Ruf/Yellow Eye)

It's a peculiar thing, but the music which gave the world rock'n'roll and rock as we know it -- the blues, in case you missed the connection -- seems utterly marginalised in the media. Even more odd is that when the best blues musicians -- and even some fairly indifferent ones, or legends passing into a belated retirement -- play a concert that people turn out in their hundreds in... more >>

Low Down and Dirty

Michael Bloomfield: Blues at the Fillmore 1968-69 (Raven/EMI)

Michael Bloomfield: Blues at the Fillmore 1968-69 (Raven/EMI)

For those who weren't there at the time, some small explanation may be necesary. In the late Sixties it seemed obligatory that every student dive or flat would have a copy of an album featuring guitarist Mike Bloomfield and/or keyboard player Al Kooper. They had impeccable pedigree: Bloomfield a gifted slide player who had been in the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, had played with early... more >>

Work Me Lord

Otis Taylor: Otis Taylor's Contra Band (Telarc)

Otis Taylor: Otis Taylor's Contra Band (Telarc)

Singer-guitarist Taylor is nominally posted here under Blues in Elsewhere, but -- as always, see previous reviews here -- he doesn't easily fit into the prescription, broad though it might be. Here, for example, he leans towards African sounds on Yell Your Name (just him, drums and cornet on a chant-like song) and sometimes has a djembe player alongside pedal steel, organ and fiddle.... more >>

Blind Piano Teacher

BIG DADDY WILSON INTERVIEWED (2012): Blues sprechen here

BIG DADDY WILSON INTERVIEWED (2012): Blues sprechen here

Wilson Blount – aka Big Daddy Wilson – is certainly a bluesman with a point of difference. He may have been a Southern black kid and born in North Carolina, but he's honest enough to admit he didn't even hear the blues until he was in his Thirties and living in Germany where he'd gone to serve time in the military. And as he tells us in this candid interview, the first... more >>

This is How I Live

Louisiana Red and Little Victor's Juke Joint: Memphis Mojo (Ruf/Yellow Eye)

Louisiana Red and Little Victor's Juke Joint: Memphis Mojo (Ruf/Yellow Eye)

Almost an octogenerian, Louisiana Red (aka Iverson Minter) has understandably become a fixture on blues circuits. Born in Alabama and his father lynched by the Klan, he once recorded for Chess in 1949 before doing military service, and after that just kept playing the blues. It wasn't until more recent times however that he became better known, but you'd have to say that might be for... more >>

I'm Gettin' Tired

CHAMPION JACK DUPREE REMEMBERED: Seconds out of the ring . . .

CHAMPION JACK DUPREE REMEMBERED: Seconds out of the ring . . .

Blues pianist Champion Jack Dupree could always upset a few expectations. While his few remaining colleagues in the old blues game disavowed alcohol, Dupree told me in 1988 -- when he was approximately 80, his birth date seemed flexible – he still fancied a taste, but with a couple of crucial exceptions. "I drink cognac and beer," he said cheerily, "but I never... more >>

Barrelhouse Woman