NorthernBlues Music Lands 2 Albums in Blues Revue TOP 25 of the Decade

#3 Otis Taylor ‘White African’

“It’s dark and slow,” Otis Taylor says of his breakthrough 2001 release White African. Not exactly the kind of sound that creates stars, especially when the musician in question had left the music scene to become a successful antiques dealer and had released a previous album, When Negroes Walk The eearth, that didn’t create so much as a ripple of interest when it was released a year earlier.

“No one’s going to listen to my music, so why should I worry about ti?” Taylor remembers asking producer and bassist Kenny Passarelli at the time.

It turned out that a lot of people listened to White African, one of the most harrowing and intense collections of acoustic-based – but not entirely acoustic – blues released in the past decade. And what they heard galvanized them.

Perhaps the collective shrug that met When negroes meant there were no outside forces influencing Taylor to change his approach, allowing him the freedom to explore the music’s more ominous crevices. He created a sparse, disturbing vibe heavily indebted to John Lee Hooker’s solo work. Lyrically, songs about modern-day crucifixions (“Resurrection Blues”), watching the death of a parent (“Momma Don’t You Do It”), and lynching and dismemberment of Taylor’s great-grandfather (“Saint Martha Blues”) aren’t topics with crossover appeal, especially when sung by a cavernous, gravelly voice that seems to be bubbling up from the deepest recesses of a Louisiana swamp. But those are the very qualities that made Taylor’s music stand out in a sea of boisterous blues-rock tailored more to rowdy, socializing crowds than to those interested in reflecting on the plight of the black man in America.

“I don’t know much about the blues, but I’m good at being black,”
Taylor says of the historical slant to many of White African’s chilling topics. “It’s easy for me to write about that, because I lived through it in the Fifties and Sixties.” That attitude helped create an immediate buzz in the blues world soon after the project’s appearance — one that’s continued as Taylor’s album-a-year output has bolstered his legacy and thickened his catalog.

Other subtle aspects of White African added to its dusky, timeless luster, including understated sound effects on a handful of tunes – a suggestion by Passarelli that further separated the album from anything else in its genre. That to the instrumentation, subject matter, atmospheric production, and unsettling ambiance, this was music that got under your skin and stayed there.

“I’m a blues artist, not a musician. I’m searching for some form of originality,” Taylor explains. One listen to White African is all it takes to understand the importance of the statement. Hal Horowitz, Blues Revue, February/March 2010

#19 Watermelon Slim & The Workers

“It’s hard to say what’s most impressive about Watermelon Slim: his stinging slide, his cool-toned harp playing, his lived-in wail, or the original songs that bear the stamp of a guy who’s spent a long time honing his craft. Serving up swamp mucic (“Devil’s Cadillac” and “Possum Hand”), humorous blues “Check Writing Woman”), or Dobro-fueled porch music (“Frisco Line”), Slim (real name: Bill Homans) never fails to entertain.
Blues Revue, February/March 2010

New Watermelon Slim CD Coming in June

Watermelon Slim’s new CD, Ringers, will be coming out in June. Like his previous CD, “Escape from the Chicken Coop”, Ringers is another Nashville production – recorded with the finest musicians from Music City.

And the best news is that

Watermelon Slim is back on tour!
March 2010
4 Montgomery, AL Capital Oyster Bar – Slim solo
5 Tuscaloosa, AL Little Willie’s – Slim solo
6 Bessemer, AL Mr. Gip’s – Slim solo
7 Nashville, TN Carol Ann’s – Slim solo
17 Oklahoma City, OK Oklahoma City Limits
18 Tulsa, OK Flytrap Music Hall
19 Springfield, MO Nathan P. Murphy’s
20 Eureka Springs, AR Chelsea’s
22 Nashville, TN Carol Ann’s
23 Louisville, KY Stevie Ray’s
25 Auburn Hills, MI Callahan’s
26 Kalamazoo, MI State Theatre
27 Chicago, IL Legend’s
28 St. Louis, MO Beale on Broadway
31 Lincoln, NE Zoo Bar

April 2010
1 Omaha, NE The Lift Lounge
2 Des Moines, IA Blues On Grand
3 Kansas City, MO Knucklehead’s Saloon
17 Clarksdale, MS Juke Joint Festival – solo
30 Jacksonville Beach, FL Mojo Kitchen

May 2010
1 Tallahassee, FL Common Grounds
2 Gainesville, FL Common Grounds
6 Wyomissing, PA Gerald Veasley’s Jazz Base)
7 Woonsocket, RI Chan’s
8 Shirley, MA Bull Run

June 2010
12 Nordborg, Denmark Nord-Als Musik Festival

July 2010
10 Ritzville, WA Ritzville Blues, Brews & BBQ Festival
16 Windsor, ON Blues Fest International Windsor – solo
17 London, ON Blues Fest International London – solo
22 Locorno, Switzerland Magic Blues Festival
28-31 Cognac, France Cognac Passions Blues Festival

August 2010
7 Kitchener, ON Kitchener Blues Festival
14-15 Salmon Arm, BC Salmon Arm Roots & Blues Festival

September 2010
4 Monaghan, Ireland Harvest Blues Festival
10 Toronto, ON Southside Shuffle

Published in: on February 16, 2010 at 7:33 AM  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. great work

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