Blues in Elsewhere

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

21 May 2012  |  1 min read

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.... > Read more

Blind Piano Teacher

BIG DADDY WILSON INTERVIEWED (2012): Blues sprechen here

11 Apr 2012  |  7 min read

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... > Read more

This is How I Live

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

8 Feb 2012  |  1 min read

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... > Read more

I'm Gettin' Tired

CHAMPION JACK DUPREE REMEMBERED (2012): Seconds out of the ring . . .

31 Jan 2012  |  4 min read  |  1

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... > Read more

Barrelhouse Woman

Savoy Brown: Voodoo Moon (Ruf/Yellow Eye)

30 Jan 2012  |  1 min read  |  3

Many years ago Pete Frame would produce books of meticulously drawn family trees of rock bands. His Sabbath Bloody Sabbath tree filled two tightly written gatefold A5 pages and traced Black Sabbath back to bands that Ronnie Dio and Bill Ward were in around '64. I don't recall ever seeing a Frame family tree for the British blues band Savoy Brown (although they did get a passing reference in... > Read more

24/7

Omar and the Howlers: Essential Collection (Ruf/Yellow Eye)

17 Jan 2012  |  1 min read

Out of Mississippi by way of the Lone Star State, Omar Kent Dykes is one of the tough Texas blues guitar players whose no nonsense style is perfectly complemented by his various line-ups (usually small) around his core band. This non-chronological double disc collection -- which opens with a head-down 1991 live version of his Magic Man which owes a debt to that clenched-fist macho strut of... > Read more

Sugar Ditch

HOWLIN' WOLF IN LONDON, 1970: When worlds collide

11 Jan 2012  |  3 min read  |  2

One of the most beloved blues albums of the early Seventies was a super-session recorded when Howlin' Wolf went to London to work with the Stones' rhythm section of Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman, guitarist Eric Clapton, and others including Stones' pianoman Ian Stewart. And an uncredited Ringo Starr on I Ain't Superstitious. The subsequent album The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions was... > Read more

Killing Floor

ERIC BIBB INTERVIEWED (2009): Born into this

6 Jan 2012  |  3 min read

You could say singer-guitarist Eric Bibb had little choice, that he was born to the musical life: his father Leon was a well-known New York folk singer; his uncle was John Lewis, the pianist in the Modern Jazz Quartet; and his godfather was the legendary singer, activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson. Add in family friends like Pete Seeger and the late Odetta, advice from... > Read more

Tall Cotton

Big Daddy Wilson: Thumb a Ride (Ruf)

21 Sep 2011  |  <1 min read

This big bluesman with a sometimes gentle and soulful voice has appeared at Elsewhere previously with his fine Love is the Key which featured Eric Bibb, a singer he is close in spirit to. This all acoustic outing recorded in Germany (where he has lived for many years) with his touring band (and a studio percussion player) continues his generous, gentle and inviting journey and -- as he... > Read more

If You Were Mine

JOHN MAYALL IN THE SIXTIES: And Another Man Done Gone . . .

13 Sep 2011  |  4 min read

When veteran British bluesman John Mayall played the Civic in Auckland in 2010, the concert was both disappointing and crowd-pleasing. Disappointing because, although professionally executed, it failed to really take flight. Crowd-pleasing because he played his hits. The joke, of course, is Mayall has never had hits and at 77 it seems increasingly unlikely he ever will. But he did... > Read more

Snowy Wood

Duke Robillard: Passport to the Blues (Stony Plain)

22 Aug 2011  |  <1 min read

Multiple award winner Robillard founded Roomful of Blues in the late Sixties, was in the Fabulous Thunderbirds and has been playing for more than four decades, and shows no signs of slowing with this fist-tight collection of (mostly) originals. He's toured with Tom Waits (an influence on the gritty Hong Kong Suit, and whose Make It Rain gets covered) and nods to Willie Dixon on Rhode... > Read more

Make It Rain

Rory Block: Shake 'Em on Down (Stony Plain)

7 Aug 2011  |  <1 min read  |  1

Singer-guitarist Rory Block learned directly from Mississippi John Hurt, Son House, Bukka White and others and here – through originals and retooled covers – acknowledges the great innovator Mississippi Fred McDowell who (despite singing I Do Not Play No Rock'n'Roll) influenced blues-rock musicians like the young Stones, and tutored Bonnie Raitt. Block met him at a formative... > Read more

Mississippi Man

Joe Louis Walker's Blues Conspiracy: Live on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise (Stony Plain)

20 Jul 2011  |  <1 min read

That this was recorded on a Caribbean cruise might tell you all you need about its crowd-pleasing nature. But Walker's guests (guitarists Johnny Winter, Tab Benoit and Duke Robillard, Watermelon Slim on harmonica among them) get away serious six-string savagery and down low dirty vocals. Yes, crowd-pleasing – but songs like A Poor Man's Plea with Kenny Neal turn the cruise ship... > Read more

Born in Chicago

Tab Benoit: Medicine (Telarc)

4 Jul 2011  |  <1 min read  |  1

Soulful blues with a dark bayou twist is Tab Benoit's musical style, but he also locates lyrics in this world, whether it be a relationship going to hell (“We've been fighting over nothing”) or the Louisiana environment on the same path (“Whatcha gonna tell the children/trees/spirits when the heart of the bayou bleeds”). A great band (Ivan Neville on Hammond,... > Read more

Nothing Takes the Place of You

Watermelon Slim and Super Chicken: Okiesippi Blues (NorthernBlues)

28 Jun 2011  |  <1 min read

In Clarksdale, Mississippi I saw a singer/guitarist who called himself Howl N Mudd, which was certainly a man covering his bases. (That story is here.) The juke joint he played in was very popular (be sure to read that piece of graffiti I quote) and recently Elsewhere reviewed a DVD of Watermelon Slim whiuch was filmed there. Slim has a great backstory -- more interesting than his DVD... > Read more

I'm a Little Fish

Tedeschi Trucks Band: Revelator (Masterworks)

13 Jun 2011  |  1 min read  |  1

Anyone who caught the husband and wife team of Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi in New Zealand recently were perhaps familiar with guitarist Trucks' impressive Allman Brothers/Eric Clapton pedigree, but she came as something of a surprise to most. Looking like what Americans call a "soccer mom", the slight Tedeschi could sing like Bonnie Raitt and sometimes edged as close to... > Read more

Midnight in Harlem

Howlin' Wolf: The Howlin' Wolf Album (Set on Down)

12 Jun 2011  |  1 min read

One of the assertions on the cover of this album – released in 69, reissued after a long absence – isn't true. Bluesman Howlin' Wolf had been an “early adopter” of electric guitar. What is true is he didn't care for this album (“dog shit” was his considered judgment) which had him being made over in line with the post-Hendrix psychedelic music of the... > Read more

The Red Rooster

TRAVELLING RIVERSIDE BLUES: Robert Johnson, the blues and Clarksdale, Mississippi

25 Apr 2011  |  13 min read  |  2

The intersection of highways 61 and 49 near Clarksdale in northwest Mississippi doesn't look particularly special: there's a car yard, a service station, a couple of kids listlessly kicking a ball outside Abe's barbecue shop . . . Just the usual stuff. The only thing to distinguish it from hundreds of other such intersections in the state is the odd looking monument-cum-sculpture thing at... > Read more

Robert Johnson: Crossroad Blues

DEREK TRUCKS INTERVIEWED (2009): Allman and Clapton, but his own man

10 Apr 2011  |  12 min read  |  2

For someone yet to hit 30, the Jacksonville, Florida-based singer-guitarist Derek Trucks has achieved a lot. But then, he was almost born to it. His uncle is drummer Butch Trucks of the Allman Brothers Band; he was named after Eric Clapton’s pseudonym in Derek and the Dominos; and these days he is married to acclaimed blues singer Susan Tedeschi. Those factors alone don’t... > Read more

Derek Trucks: Down Don't Bother Me

ALLIGATOR RECORDS 1971 - 2011: Four decades of brittle and often brilliant blues

28 Mar 2011  |  3 min read

In his excellent book More Miles Than Money, subtitled “journeys through American music”, the expat London-based writer Garth Cartwright meets Bruce Iglauer who founded the Alligator blues label in Chicago which became that city's most important label after Chess went belly-up in 1975. As Cartwright notes, the label was home to exceptional talents like the earthy bellower... > Read more

Son Seals: Goin' Home (1984)