12 October 2016

Robert Lee "Lil' Poochie" Watson & Hezekiah Early - Natchez Burnin'

// Broke And Hungry Records //

It's the air, or the electricity in the air, or the loessy scent of countryness...the smell of cotton and kudzu, deep loamy soil, rust and dried blood, sweat and barbecue smoke, worn rope, gasoline, hot metal, sun-dried wood, weed, whiskey, and lathered mule. Mississippi smells of The South, and whatever you think that is.

It's the Mississippiness of Mississippi, if you will. You want to talk about having Sense of Place? Mississippi is that place. And southern Mississippi? It's got something else. It's got east Louisiana.

Hometown of Guitarist/vocalist Lil' Poochie Watson and Hezekiah Early, drum and harp, Natchez, Mississippi sits a bridge and river away from Louisiana, just down around the bend from Jerry Lee Lewis' Ferriday, La.

Natchez has a little casino down by the Mississippi river, and they got Jughead's Fish Fry, and all the rest of what every other small, southern, river-side town has in one form or another: Hard-worn roots. Dirt under its nails. A chipped front tooth. Trotlines. Dog runs. Motor Court. Trash around the tracks. Hardwood. Hard time. Hard music. Big love. 


Let's talk about Natchez
Natchez was hardly touched by the civil war, but for one incident in 1851, involving the Union ironclad Essex which fired on the town in September of that year. One old fellow had a heart attack, and shrapnel killed seven-year-old Rosalie Beekman.

Now, you know the story about the fire, right?
The great Natchez Rhythm Club fire.
A gawd-awful, awful, unspeakably horrible thing.

This fire in Natchez, Ms in 1940 at the Rhythm Club killed two-hundred and nine people. That same fire inspired the dark blues standard, The Natchez Burning.

The southern Mississippi Civil Rights era was what one would expect of the horror of Nineteen-Sixties Mississippi. In 1964, 25-year-old Joe Edwards disappeared, and was believed, according to evidence given by a white pastor and a white banker, to have been murdered by the Ku Klux Klan.

In 1966, the United States House Un-American Activities Committee published a list of Klan members in Natchez. The local paper mill alone had 70 members. Cops on down and local leaders on up were well-known members.

Terrorist groups like The Cottonmouth Moccasin Gang (whose members murdered Ben Chester White in an effort to draw Martin Luther King to Natchez so they could assassinate him) and The Mississippi Whitecaps, made up mostly of rural farmers, had Natchez and southwest Mississippi locked down.

These weren't the only racist gangs in south-west Mississippi. There were White Knights, Original Knights, United Klans of America, the Silver Dollar Group, and others all intent on putting their willfully ig'nunt dumbasswards racist shit-heeled boot down on the necks of black folks just for existing. But I digress...sort of...

In 1967, George Metcalf and Wharlest Jackson were blown up in separate unsolved car bombing incidents, and Natchez was the center of Klan activity for Mississippi. Poochie Watson was eighteen years old in 1969, and growing up around the piney woods of Fayette, Mississippi.

When Charles Evers, Medgar Ever's older brother, became, in Fayette, the first black mayor since reconstruction in Mississippi, Hezekiah Early was 35.

Look, nobody really needs me to recap a litany of The South's creeping southern dread and horror as entertainment schtick.

I simply propose that this history is in the flavor of Poochie Watson and Hezekiah Early's sound, filtered thru Arkansas, MississippiLouisiana, Alabama, and the vile reality of a lot of other places not necessarily in "the south." The past isn't even past. You know that. It's not the only flavor. There's a mess of Jerry Lee Lewis, seasoned and blackened with creole beats, the bite of a cold beer found in the back of the fridge on a hot day, T-Model Ford playing on the car radio, and white whiskey.

Watson and Early's town, with its hard rurality fronted by the Natchez Trace, and backed by The Riverlent itself to a particularly virulent, low, and nasty culture, hidden beneath the veneer of a pretty little Mississippi River town.

Which is the kind of culture that often leads to a good party. As the saying goes, "Mississippi: Born to party, forced to work."

Poochie Watson and Hezekiah Early know how to party. Now, that's not to say this is some weak blooze party music, on the contrary. They'll break your heart one song, and make you shake it til you break it the next.

Recorded in three hours, under the auspices of Broke And Hungry Records strongman Jeff Konkel at Delta Music Institute at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, Natchez Burnin' is blues played with a knife in its front pocket and a bottle of rye in the back.

This is blues that deserves a 180gm slab with a gatefold jacket, or better yet, to be issued as a 78. I don't think there has been a tougher blues recording made since T-Model Ford passed on.

Here's the run-down:

1. I Got My Eyes On You is Poochie Watson's raw funky pop blues rocker. It runs akin to boogies by Greenville's T-Model Ford, or Booba Barnes.

2. Shooby Dooby Doo is a Hezekiah Early number. A sweet but deceptive little song. Part street corner pop song to whistle, part lecherous blues. Nicely balanced. Early's occasional ululation, or warble at the end of a couple lines...is dirty, is what it is. His drums, hot like Tabasco and poppin' like corn, strollin' with Watson's nighttime bbq party guitar-style down a highway by the river.

3. I Feel So Bad is a Chick Willis song that makes for a good slow soundtrack to some hunchin'.

4. Mama Don't Love Papa is another Poochie Watson song. A spare, lean lament. Hezekiah Early's drums patter a ghostly heartbeat, his harp a howl in the wind, Watson's vocals raw, and real, his guitar primal and heartbroken. 

This is blues.

5. Baby, Please Don't Go - Built and popularized by Big Joe Williams on his nine-string guitar, and covered by Muddy Waters, AC/DC, Them, Al Kooper, The 'Stones, and Mose Allison, John Lee Hooker, and Jake Bugg, among at least a bajillion others, Watson and Early bring it, wring it out, and make it their own.

6. Ain't That Just Like A Woman - Another Louis Jordan rocker, and another raucous howler. This song played by these guys in a packed room of dancers has gotta be illegal in parts of Alabama. Come on now! Give the drummer some!

7. My Girl Josephine by Antoine "Fats" Domino really shows off Watson and Early's Lousiana'd rock and roll flavour, with Hezekiah Early's harp taking the place of an accordion, his drumming washboard-metronomic, Watson's gitar scratchin' like a chicken, this New Orleans boogie rocks the yard. #ROWR!

8. Just A Little Bit by Rosco Gordon - Hezekiah Early's drumming is swinging Natchez, leaning and crackling like a hot house on fire, Louisiana-style, baby. His harp a sharp shout, vocals rending the air, and Poochie's guitar sending out the call to all the ladies to come on home and give Poochie just a little bit.

9. Late In The Evening is Traditional, and has been recorded by Robert Pete Williams, and Ray Charles. Watson and Early's version falls closer to the former, than the latter. It retains the Williams flavor, but kicks it with Brother Ray's controlled burn.

10. Mr. Charlie - I've heard variations of this song of course, but the first time I ever gave it serious consideration was in Charlotte, North Carolina, when I saw T-Model Ford play it.

The bar T-Model played, a classic brass rail and fern bar, with the usual capacity of old white blues dudes in attendance. A couple of the fellahs were up front, drunk and ruddy-faced, asking loudly for Mr. Ford to, "play that one song you do...where...you kick that woman in the ass! PLAY THAT...one song where YOU....kick that woman...here's some MONEY!" and he stuffed his fat, soft fist into the tip jar.

T-Model Ford looked annoyed at the man and said something the likes of, "Oh, yes sir, boss man, Yessir, Mr. Charlie" then started playing Mr. Charlie. It no doubt went right over the oaf's head, but I caught it. It was well played and it slayed. I don't remember him playing I'm Insane that night at all.

But back to the lecture at hand, Poochie Watson's plaintive vocals bust this song open. His guitar, like Early's harp, is interpretive, tasteful, supportive, and economical, much like Early's drums. A lesson in the raw power of simplicity.

. Flip, Flop, and Fly - Big Joe Turner, baby! The original boss of the blues. What Turner had in smoothness, Watson and Early equals in raw early rock boogie fire. Primal pop rock.

12. Somebody Changed The Lock - Louis Jordan- This is Hezekiah Early's solo jam. Homespun vocals, homemade acoustic guitar, all you need for some straight up blues. A lost art, perfected.

Robert "Poochie" Watson & Hezekiah Early's album Natchez Burnin' is currently available to pre-order direct from Broke & Hungry Records. Get it.

05 August 2016

THE BONNEViLLES - Arrow Pierce My Heart

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The Bonnevilles new hit record, Arrow Pierce My Heart, starts with a haunting, lo-fi, acapella prayer called The Bells of Hell Go Ting-A-Ling-A-Ling, a WWI British airmen's song, and it segues into a mono fade to stereo bomb drop guitar tone that rocks like the sound of Howlin' Wolf's 1969 amplifier rolling off the top of his station wagon. No Law In Lurgan, is a monster garage super rock boogie that sets the tone for the album. The Bonnevilles have sent notice: They ain't fuckin' around.


My Dark Heart is track two. A blues shouter you'll be blasting on a late afternoon flat-black motorcycle ride straight into the sun.


Track three, The Whiskey Lingers tells it like it is, if you like your liquor amber. A deeply grooving blues, it shows they've absorbed some Tupelo rock, a little North Mississippi trance action, and throttled it all thru a Nirvana/Stooges filter...wholly unavoidable, like The Beatles filter, it's in the air and in the water. Hold on! Singer/songwriter/guitarist Andrew McGibbon shines incredibly bright on this slab of blues rock implosion. Plucking, swinging, rolling. tumbling, sliding, grinding, McGibbon sails here...the performance...like the rainbow in a great glass of Rye whiskey, is stellar.


I don't know if The Electric Company is a metaphor for something or not. Maybe the dude in the song worked for The Electric Company ...and while on the job liked to "Get drunk! Get high! Get Some!" and more. Whatever. I don't know about all you, but I say hail! Flip the switch, and rock it, y'all. #ItsTooLateToDieYoung


Title song Arrow Pierce My Heart (#5) has Andy McGibbon playing an insistent, garagey tribal country spaghetti western surf guitar creep that transmogrifies into a feedback-breathing UFO-driven beast, hackles up. You'll be looking in the rearview mirror to see if McGibbon's guitar solo is catching up to you. Skinsman Chris McMullan gets a solid high-five for his hard slapping, one-driving-shoe-on-the-gas, one-boot-on-the-brake-drumming. #Wicked #OnPoint #Work


Song six is Eggs And Bread, a short, beautifully picked gallows song that speaks to the eternalness of love and the blues. That is all.


Lucky seven is I Dreamt of The Dead. It rocks. Hard. I'm thinking McGibbon (who produced the album) has some serious power-pop off-shoots from his blues roots. You'll hear some Dan Auerbachness in McGibbon's vocals, or maybe it's just his Northern Irish soul shining, either way, if you had the opportunity you'd buy this song as a 45, and keep flipping it over to play:

#8 - We've all felt it. You've weathered all manner of storms for a taste of love, and you fail it. Sing along: I've Come Too Far For Love To Die.


Erotica Laguna Lurgana is an instrumental intermission that takes you through the steamy, sultry sub-tropical rainforests, and wild west deserts of Lurgan, Northern Ireland. It will set you to whistling, again.


The Man With An X Shaped Scar On His Cheek tells the tale of just that. Not all the details, just the essentials. A roots-rock banjo-slugged chugger with a terrific, dark melody and driving rhythm...it runs just shy of a three-minute short story and teaches in its essence:


Song #11 is Those Little Lies :

noun: lie; plural noun: lies
1. an intentionally false statement.
"Mungo felt a pang of shame at telling Alice a lie"

intransitive verb
1a : to be or to stay at rest in a horizontal position : be prostrate : b : to assume a horizontal position —often used with down C : archaic : to reside temporarily : stay for the night : lodge d : to have sexual intercourse —used with with e : to remain inactive (as in concealment)
2: to be in a helpless or defenseless state
3: Rotten fruits on harvest day


Number twelve!
Learning To Cope is a wailer, a wall of gnarly Stooges soul garage punk blast... imagine The Undertones squad up with The Clash to produce The Cramps, and The Afghan Whigs cover it. Drummer Chris McMullan is a monster robot, destroying everything in his path...and doing it locked in. Another Bonnevilles song that'd make a great 45.



Song Thirteen, baby.
The closer.
Who Do I Have To Kill To Get Out of Here?
The Bonnevilles start the album with a prayer, and close it with a post-grunge howl, a thumping anthem for something we can't imagine, that we all fear is coming because of what we've done...and all that's missing is a bottle of George Dickel, a horn section...and a longer fade out.

If you're one of those who, for some reason, felt
disenfranchised after the first two Black Keys albums, or maybe the first one even, and that's not meant to slag on The Bk's...some folks feel that way. Whatever. But you'll never deny the influence, bad and world-wide...or maybe you're still bemoaning the loss of The White Stripes, then you must rock out The Bonnevilles' new album, Arrow Pierce My Heart.

The Bonnevilles, like The BK's, are flavourful muthrs. They know their rock and blues deeply, but they've absorbed it, made it their own, and mutated it, rather than wearing it like a dress-up badge or a special hat.

The Bonnevilles are their own thing. Post-grunge blues-infected rock and post-Fat Possum-infected-punkass blues dressed up in new suits and fightin' boots, like city folks, but dusty with Irish country soul. They're stadium rockers at the corner pub, they're the band you wish someone would play for you when you think no one knows how to rock anymore. They're probably what you've been waiting for.


08 July 2016

MUDLOW - Letter To Louise ep

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Mudlow's new ep Letter To Louise
 continues their exploration of swampy, over the ocean, but regionless dark lit blues.

The second of what is to be a trilogy of eps, to be combined with bonus tracks into an album, Mudlow break no new ground here, and that's good (though the recording by bassist Paul Pascoe is even better than ever) rather they stick to their minacious, foggy wet port street, rock/ blues / jazz/ soundtrack thing they do so well.

From the threat of storm gorgeous bleary and near-sighted cover photograph by Casey Weber (shot at the same spot as the last ep, Minnesota Snow, released in 2015) to the swamped-out dark noir Brit themes of lost and broken brick hard men and clinker-sharp women, the scene: a dark paneled honky-tonk...broken glass...nicotine fingers...and good, good whisky.  There's a deeper sensuousness to these new recordings, the performances not just great, but now impressive.
Lyrically detailed, Tobias' singing has become more...refined...agile, yet still with a timbre like a well-dressed old man with a mouth full of cigar. His guitar skills have grown dramatically since the band discontinued using a sax player, his playing even more jazz-tinged than previous, in the way that Nick Cave or Jeffrey Lee Pierce could be jazz-tinged, his writing never stronger. Always a literature guy, Tobias tells earthy short stories, rooted in trouble, populated by characters, and those characters have never been never more alive in their troubles than on Letter To Louise.

Here's the run-down:

Track one is Letter To Louise, a reminder of all that Mudlow is about. Mid-tempo groovy, menacingly sexy bass groove, electric guitar picked with danger, south-east Tejas lounge drums...the whole thing would not sound out of place in a Tarrantino film. It is lyrically, I'm told, a re-investigation or re-working of a track called Horse Nails that Mudlow's singer/ guitarist/songwriter Tobias, did with guitarist Jon Wood several years ago. But where Horse Nails is folky, plucked, and insistent, yet imbued with the usual blue Mudlow desperate menace,  Letter To Louise is slower, groovier, creepier. Mudlow is on point as always as they drag Letter To Louise out the gate of Dr. John's backyard, and down to the old paved road into the gloaming. You know by seven-seconds into the song that nothing good can come of this story, somebody's gonna end up hurt.

Track two is Mad Mary Lou, a next-gen north Mississippi/Memphis mid-tempo Brighton blues boogie about yr local gal, and a party in the woods, and running out of roses at the cemetery. That's a scene that does not bode well, and it becomes clear by the first hook that all this scene lacks is a horn section, and a bonfire. #spodee #Stilettointhemud #Canofmace

Number three is Good Whiskey, and it's the band's most atmospherically lovely and epicly understated, which says a lot for a band that excels at atmosphere and understatement. Good Whiskey is a deftly finger-picked, sea-side town folk-blues that tastefully shows off just how fine a guitarist Tobias really is, as well as his lyrical depth, and ability to weave a short story within the constrictions of the song form. That he has a terrific (in the true sense of the word) band that can match him step for step through the moods he sets is a bonus. Mudlow make's each vignette striking, like a well-worn, hand decorated, old-fashioned Par Avion envelope, the address nearly invisible now, one word barely there, well-read and folded...Waits.

Engineer/producer,bassist Paul Pascoe' production keeps your ears leaning in, his fine, subtle taste in textures, and his sensitivity to moods supports the simple instrumentation, his bass work holding it down, but walking just right, with a lean.

Drummer Matt Latcham...rock solid and spot on, his playing tasteful yet primal, swinging like dancers in the dirt. Latcham's always played with a certain ease and loose change in the pocket, and that's what you want for a band like Mudlow. Sonic bonus points to producer Pascoe for the recording of Latcham's trap set, btw.

Mudlow play the soundtrack to the dark worries...
when you
 can't sleep at night!
trouble everyday!
The dread of a flat tire
on a country two-lane road
at ten o'clock at night,
where you can still be seen.
Somebody's at the back door,
there's a lady at the bar you used to know, and she's strapped,
...and a jukebox plays a Mudlow album.

24 June 2016

MOONSHiNE MEDiCiNE :: An interview with BLACK RiVER BLUESMAN & BAD MOOD HUDSON + An interview with Memphis alt-luthier/performance artiste JOHNNY LOWEBOW

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This Finnish-punkass-distorto-rural-downtown- country-blues duo is a gift for fans of blues-infected music...more Stooges than Son House, less International Blues Contest contestant, more a band you want to hear when you need a good, weird, alt-blues ass-kicking. 

Guitarist Black River Bluesman & drummer Bad Mood Hudson are Super-Alien knuckledraggers, primal rock blues scientists, delta garage band dirt metallurgists. Precise in their riffs, dancing around each other with each change, a united front against boring, automatic safety blues. They're a great European representative of the so-called,"punk blues" genre (whatever that is) in that they're like a punk band that decided to play non-overtly sexy grooves, instead of music to yell at people with.

Their sound a stylish savagery, 
a turquoise crushed- velvet pummeling, powered by guitarist Jukka Juhola's exclusive use of a series of Memphis-built Lowebow guitars, cigarbox and cigarbox-esque guitars known for their broomstick-like dowl necks and hand-wound pickups, all hand-built by one of a kind luthier John Lowe aka Johnny Lowebow. 

Drummer Bad Mood Hudson 
is rock solid and deeply in the pocket, with a groove any North Mississippi guitarist would dig rolling with. He swings as hard as a good metal drummer
should, while building a solid corrugation for Jukka and his slide-driven Lowebow guitars to walk on. Solid, but not without soul. They bring mystery back to blues, that creepy feeling I get...that frisson I feel when the music is right. Black River Bluesman & Bad Mood Hudson are right.

I've been following these guys for ages it seems and they only get more refined in their rawness, more punk/metal, but at the same time deeper into blues, retaining the forms, yet expanding on energy and distortion.

From the punk-blues of title-song, Moonshine Medicine, to the stripped down Lowebow slide and washboard Chicken Song (because what blues album is complete without a chicken song? Ask Hasil Adkins!) to the JSBX super blues rock action of Candy Box Blues (note to someone: make a video for this song of a 1967 Ford F-250 dragging a chainsaw down a gravel country road.) Up next is Gasoline, which rocks a sort of Finnish T-Model Ford meets (the) Melvins blues-sludge. The Sex Pistols-y blues stomp of Digital Ghost is followed by the joyous Lowebow guitar homage of Going Down With A Lowebow. Jukka and Hude rock as one, get down as one. They are a matched, but slightly cracked (cracks filled with gold) pair. They compliment each other's playing, yet rock on their own.

It's a primitive, yet Now sound, hearing Jukka aka Black River Bluesman simultaneously playing the bass and the guitar via one of his Lowebow Guitars, as Hude aka Bad Mood

Hudson regulates like a swingin' jack-hammer. To me, their music is blues, as authentic as South Anywhere, or Northern Nowhere as the case may be. It's a natural sound. It's based in American blues, sure...what isnt anymore? But, it's their own thing. It is to my hearing, hybrid Finnish blues. Local and international. Jukka and Hude doing what Iggy tried to do covering Junior Kimbrough. In Finland. I wanted to know more.

///////((( Interview with Black River Bluesman and Bad Mood Hudson )))////

RS:: (Rick Saunders) : It was great to see you guys at the Deep Blues Festival in Clarksdale. You were amazing. What was that experience like for you?

JUKKA: Thank You. 

I have been a big blues fan since early 70's. Mississippi was a place of my dreams that I was not sure if it even exists. Just to finally get there not to mention to perform there I cannot describe by words. One of the shows was on a porch at Shacksdale by Hopson plantation. In the middle of our show, a spotlight caught fire in front of us. It was quickly put out, the shack didn't burn down, I survived the electric shocks I got from the microphone and the music never stopped.

HUDE (=Andy the Bad mood) : I was born in the 70's and Clarksdale is an is amazing place! I really enjoy to be there! Great place to organize festival! It was great to be part of it!

JUKKA: The Deep Blues Festival has been the best festival ever and we'd like to thank everybody who made it happen. Special thanks go to Chris Johnson, John Lowe, Mary Anne Norwood and Stan Street.

RS:: Jukka, you play Lowebow guitars. Could you tell me how you found out about John Lowe and his Cigarbox guitars, how many of his guitars you have, and what makes them


JUKKA: We played at a festival in Scotland 2008

and met a Danish guy who was playing cigar box guitars that he had made by himself. He told me he had visited John & Bev Lowes' shop Xanadu Music & Books in Memphis. That time there was nothing much about John or Lowebows in the internet but I managed to get in contact with John and mail ordered my first Lowebow – Purgatory Hill Harp # 30. Now I have four of them. The Hill Harp, a Double Decker Triple Necker Baritone # 1, a Cresting Wave # 1 and a Cathead Diddly Bow. Yes – two number ones!

Lowebows are not only just the same old cigar box guitars. The Cresting Wave has a solid body but the sound is still the genuine, distinctive Lowebow sound. John makes the pick-ups himself by hand which certainly is part of the secret. Most of his guitars have one bass string and three guitar strings with separate bass and guitar outputs for separate amps which adds to the sound.

HUDE: I like the sound of Lowebow's so much I couldn't help but buy me a Hill Harp and a 
Diddly-bow too!

JUKKA: It is the unique sound. I play only Lowebow's now as I like to sound the same all the way. And yet there is variation from the four

different models.

RS:: Do you use pedals? If so what kind? What kind of amp set up do you use?

JUKKA: No, I don't use pedals - Lowebow sound is good enough. I trust in the over-drive that comes from the amp. I have a distortion pedal just in case a venue provides amps with only clean channels. Lowebow's are equipped with two outputs - one for guitar and one for 

bass amp. So I always need two amps. My bass amp is Ampeg BA-115 HPT. I have two home made (no brand name) all-tube guitar amps, one small modified Epiphone and a Peavey Delta Blues tube combo.

RS:: You've played in the states a few times now...three? Four times? Is there a difference between U.S. gigs and the shows you do in
Europe or are the people pretty much the same as far as the reaction you receive? Folks seemed to be kind of in awe of you guys at the Deep Blues Festival. 

JUKKA: I have played five times in the States since 2009. Three times with Bad Mood Hudson, once with Livia Noisance Monteleone and once with Washboard Jackson. We have played mostly in the deep south, but also in Minnesota.

I think the audience reactions are more different venue to venue than between the continents. We feel more comfortable at deep blues stages, rock clubs and punkier bills than venues where people are expecting moody easy listening blues by candle light. But yes, I feel that in the USA people at our gigs are more open and find it easier to come and talk to you and say

”Awesome show guys!” At least here in the cold North people are more reserved. We don't tell you you were great until we are very serious about it, really mean it and - drunk enough. I have started to learn a little about these differences, like you are not expected to tell about your family/health issues to a waiter who asks ”How you doing?” We have always felt very welcome in the States.

HUDE: Same and not the same, it depends on the place often, but the audience is much more social in U.S

RS:: What's the music scene like for your kind of blues in Finland? Are there a lot of places to play, and has the local arbiter of blues correctness, the blues society, approved of what you guys do, or is it too much for them?

JUKKA: There are not many blues bands that play what could be described as deep blues – well, just a couple. Although talented and skilled, many of the Finnish blues bands tend to be not so alternative. There are some great bands that are making international career too. Some blues bars prefer more mainstream blues and rock clubs are a little suspicious if there is a b-word in your stage name.

We perform more abroad but sure have played all the blues festivals in Finland. And they are many – big and small. We started an alt.Blues society in 2007 to promote deep blues in

Finland. We have arranged five fests called ”Floating Cockroach Festival” and have booked bands like Deltahead, Johnny Halifax and the Howlin' Truth, Dogbreath, Dirty Trainload, Bullfrog Brown, Dave Arcari and many more. Awesome parties! And I plan to put up at least one more in 2018 when I will be 60....

We've got some big fans in the Finnish Blues Society but I really don't think all of them like punks like us. Anyway, we were chosen by the Society to represent Finland at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. FBS is publishing one of the oldest still existing blues magazines in the world (since 1968). They have written
articles about us and reviewed all of our records and all the reviews have been most positive. All the other Finnish blues media too have published interviews and positive articles about us. So I guess we kinda have been approved. You can tell by the reviews we get that the blues people think:

”They are not a blues band but we love them” and the rock people say: ”This is as blues as it can get but we love it”.

HUDE: I think blues audience keep our music too ugly today, but some people still love it! Good for them. rockers is also found in our music and it's a good thing!!! We have a lot of clubs and festivals in Finland and Europe.

RS:: Let's talk influences. I hear metal, and some punk, definitely Howlin' Wolf, R.L. Burnside, T-Model Ford, Mr. John Lee Hooker, but its contained in a tight fist of blues tone and rhythm, it never truly sounds like metal or punk, just the vibrancy, the urgency, the passion of, yet it retains the blues form.

JUKKA: Actually I don't listen much to heavy metal so the "metal" influences must come from my childhood when Black Sabbath were the most important band to me. And I still like their three first albums very much. Punk too is obvious. In the end of the 70's punk came to Finland and a lot of bands started to pop up. But of course the blues has always been the main thing in my life. First the British blues
invasion, then I found out about Chicago blues, Delta blues and so on. Hill Country blues became my favorite and later also the deep blues movement. If I had to mention only one favorite band I would say Deltahead.

RS:: I'm glad you mentioned DeltaHead. An amazing and underrated band. I think the ever-dying blues music genre is in an interesting place right now. Italy and Sardinia has a little scene of amazing guitar players and singers, UK's always got something happening, your area has a few bands that have a lot of similarities, You guys, Deltahead, Dogbreath (if either of those two still exist) have a lot of similarities.
Have you played with other "alt-blues" (whatever that is) bands in your region or elsewhere that we should know about?

JUKKA: The "alt.blues" scene is very small and marginal at least in Finland. In Europe there are bands that play very different blues from each
other so I don't know if they have a common thing or if there is a special European style that is different from American deep blues. Except that America has awesome bands in every block - we don't.

RS:: Last question: Imagine I'm coming to your house today to listen to some music. Give me five songs you'd play for me.

JUKKA: If you put the question that way I would probably choose some of my favorites that are maybe a bit lesser known. That's why no Black Sabbath, Bukka White, Ramones, RL Burnside or Johnny Lowebow in this list.

1. Deltahead: Don't move to Finland.

2. Hanoi Rocks: Tragedy

3. Chicken Legs Weaver: Your enemies cannot harm you

4. Mr. Tater: A walk in the park

5. Kollaa Kestää: Kirjoituksia kellarista

JUKKA: I'd like to change the last song to another old Finnish "punk" song. (Yes these bands were called punk bands back in the day!)

5. SE - Ei asfaltti liiku. I been singing that song all day, that' s why the change.

RS:: I dig your first pick for number 5, too, so I'm keeping it.

HUDE: Delta Head: Don't move to Finland

Kaaos: kytät on natsi sikoja.

Terveet kädet: pissaa ja paskaa

The Exploited: Punks not dead.

Junior Kimbrough: Burn in Hell

(Funny we chose same song by Deltahead ....)

RS:: Thanks, guys! It was a pleasure to get to know you.

JUKKA: Thank You it was nice talking to you and it is an honour to be featured at the legendary Rick Saunders Deep Blues site!

RS:: You're too kind. Cheers!

//////////////// I contacted John Lowe (aka Johnny Lowebow - one-man band) to ask him about the guitars he's built for Jukka and others ///////////////

RS:: How many guitars have you made for Jukka? Are they custom...like to his specs? If so, did he just tell you what he wanted or he had a particular sound he wanted? How did that work?

John Lowe: I think four. His first was a Hill Harp. I mailed it to him. His necker. He saw it on
Facebook and picked it up at the Caboose Deep Blues. His Third was a Johnny Lowebow Double cresting wave personal Lyre. He got it when he was in Memphis . Last one was the Cat Head Gospel Hand he got at the Deep Blues in Clarksdale . Last Year Hude got a Hill Harp. Second was my First Double decker triple.

RS:: Jukka tells me you make you make your own guitar pickups?

John Lowe: I started making pickups for Jay Kirgus for his one strings.

RS:: Tell about your process of making pickups. Are they based on a particular sound or pick-up, or is it something you designed yourself? Do you make more than one kind? What did you do for artist/musician Jay Kirgus? And wasn't he one of the first guys to use a modern diddley-bow or cigar-box guitar?

John Lowe: I've been making custom lipstick
pickups for Danelectros with the stereo output like I need for my show. Pickups are wire magnets and bobbins nothing new really. Jay did his fine arts Doctorate making diddlys in Oxford.

It's the stereo output and big fat coils with a P90 vibe that makes the Lowebow powerful! My skills as a potter gave me a good hand for laminating wire on a bobbin!

RS:: When did you make your first cigar box guitar? Or did you start with the dowel diddleybow first? What inspired you to make one in the first place?

John Lowe: Dowel first. Made a strap on dowel cbg then RJ (Richard Johnston) ordered a three string dowel thru then the Purgatory Hill Harp
two neck stereo. Someone brought in my first Personal Lyre a few weeks ago. I am glad to sell by builds but missed that one when I saw it again > I regret fronting some to folks who never paid. LOL

RS:: What are you working on now? Any new designs?

John Lowe: My show with keyboards made me need a more stable instrument since I play bass Drums and guitar with my right hand. I make my solid wood hand carved ones for my show now. More stable in the lap. I always am looking for a new take . Never stay in the same mode for much more than a year. That is the fun building or playing.

RS:: Your show at the Deep Blues Fest this year was remarkable. I've seen you play a few times and this was often transcendent. How was that weekend for you? In other words, was it as good for you as it was for me? And before I forget, where/how can people buy your record album?
John Lowe: Deep Blues in Clarksdale was a lot of work but much fun. My second time there the year before I just Busked at Shacksdale on the Norwood porch. I will be back for the third in that slot.

My influences were always performers who were not regurgitators of set music. Hendrix, J Winter and J Joplin as a youth. I became a professional performer busking on Beale with RJ (Richard Johnston) and Robert Belfour doing Hill Country style stuff . Then at the Othar Turner Goat picnic.

"That form is like a prayer you never know if you will be blessed with what I call an Othar Moment when you do transend the mundane into the sublime. I aim for that but it is not up to me. Trance music comes thru you not from your ego." - John Lowe

I guess that's why some folks don't get it. I failed. LOL. Mostly it depends on the crowd. Mainstream blues folks don't want to go there. I guess that's why my "Blues" bookings are only
by the folks in Clarksdale like Roger Stole and Chris Johnson who has a broad vision for his tastes. I fear the new bookers are a bit more tourist practical nuts and bolts folks so I fear their vision. LOL I hope to be wrong on that.

You can get my records at Xanadu, Goner Records, GB Gitty CBG supply, and at my shows. My instruments are sold at Xanadu Music and Books , Sturgeon Bay Music Exchange, A few at Cat Head in Clarksdale or hit me up on Facebook .

RS:: Thanks, John! I look forward to seeing you and Jukka and Hude in October at the Deep Blues Festival, Oct 13-16, in Clarksdale!

01 March 2016

HUSKY BURNETTE - Ain't Nothin' But A Revival!

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In a perfect world, Husky Burnette's new album Ain't Nothin' But A Revival would be played all over radio. People would be using Husky's name and the word Skynyrd in the same sentence, or say something about Howlin' Wolf playing Petty songs or something nice like that when they're talking about him.

I'm not saying he's yet the equal of the aforementioned, but he's at least, kissin' cousins. Husky Burnette comes from a long line of southern guitar rock and roll hellions, personally, historically, and traditionally, and he's keeping it alive and real with his own five-finger shot of hot-rodded, dirty, dirty, country-ass metalbilly blues.

This is Husky's second album (his third album) for North Carolina's Rusty Knuckles Records . The label is run by an ex-Epitaph Records dealer known as Ralph Miller, who's obviously no stranger to the rock action, and he gets Husky right on this new album. The production is big, hot, and wet, like Husky's been dipped in late '80s metal, but it's so cool to hear this kind of tough, rootsy blues sound like this. Again. I've been waiting for it. You have too, whether you know it or not.

The music and the performances on Ain't Nothin' But A Revival are Burnette's (and band's) best yet, he's stretching out sonically, lyrically, and stylistically while retaining what we love about him in the first place, his savagely agile slide, his smokey raw voice, and his hardcore full-on ready to kick on stage if he has to delivery. That, and Husky Burnette and his band know how to boogie, baby.

Previously a solo and duo artist working with a variety of drummers (full disclosure- I jammed pick-up drums for him for two of the best gigs of my life) but he's expanded his sound over the last couple albums to a band-sized outfit, blowing up what he does naturally to the large economy size.

Burnette is assisted this time out by The Legendary Shack Shakers JD Wilkes on harp for four tracks, Hank III's lap-steel man Andy Gibson recorded the album and also plays steel on one track, lead on another. Gibson brings out Burnette's inner '70's southern superrawk vibe on this album, bringing out his R.L. Burnside covering Robin Trower, his VanHowlin' Wolf. I'm guessing it's recorded to be played loud, because it sure sounds good that way!

It's the sound you want to hear comin' loud from some big home speakers laying sideways across the hood of a rebuilt flat-black in the GTO in your own flashback grown-ass hot tub time machine weekend long kegger in the woods. It's hotter 'n a she-wolf in a ghost pepper patch, and theres an iced down truck bed set with a variety of whiskeys n' such, and your partner's just scored whatever y'all like to smoke.

The moon is a drip on dark hood...

Somebody puts on the new Husky Burnette album, Ain't Nothin' But A Party, presses play, and gets it bumpin' in the big spreakers...

Best I Can
 clicks in, then a hum and the sound of Burnette's amp crawls in your head, the bass and drums drop in and boom! You're off to the party!

Kicks Rocks
is up next, and it's a rockin' freight train boogie. The harp by J.D. Wilkes couples up in Husky's yard and blows your face out, baby.

36 Degrees - This is where the addition of a bass player pays off. Especially a thoughtful one like O'Neal Dover. It opens up the palette. This track is Burnette's power ballad...without any of the ickyness. Just a jazz-tinged slide on a rainy, cold blues.

Track four is Paid By The Hour. Y'all can probably guess what that's about. It's a rolling stroll with an open-throated JD Wilkes again on the harmonica, while Husky gets in trouble with a lady at the bar. Again.

Chicken Grease is lucky number five. It's acapella, but for the church bell-like haunting clang of iron bars. It's Burnette playing a Waitsian southern beatnik conman field holler.

Southbound High Head is Husky's 'Halen playing ZZ Top song, and it rocks proudly. As it should.

Dog Me Down. Hot damn! I've been waiting to hear Husky do a duet with  Bethany Kidd, out of Chattanooga, North Carolina. She's a local gal that Husky knew. She sings with a band called River City Hustlers. Burnette tells me that they wrote this a half-dozen years ago and even recorded it once, but it didn't make the cut. It made the cut this time. And how.
Yes, the dude actually has a belt buckle.
Dog Me Down rolls out with some slanky bass line, then to some harp, set to a controlled howl.

Then Husky and Bethany begin their lovers quarrel.

It's a finger-snappin' blues stomper and yeller that'll make you want to do some kind of dirty, high-steppin' dance to. Again, Wilkes' harp-playing acts as a secret weapon. I'll be the first to admit that when I see harmonica listed on an album I wince a little, because...come on...harp players. Wilkes knows his place so well that the whole song is enhanced by his blowing. Husky plays a tight rhythm throughout, no lead, giving Wilkes the space to wail and stretch, and while he takes advantage, it's done so thoughtfully, and brilliantly.
The band just choogles on this one in a way that's simple, and rock solid. Burnette and Kidd's vocals are sax-like, with Burnette blowing hard and lowdown, and Kidd swinging around his lead. It's a fair fight, and we all win.

Busted Flat features JD Wilkes again though here he's busier. It's an easy-going classic blues study on being broke both ways. Oddly, another song with no Burnette guitar solo.

See, I Moan The Blues is Burnette's progish blues rock showcase. It's weirdly Hendrixian, yet southern, and British. It's also crunchy and precise and it features some of Burnette's best vocals yet. The guitar solo is striking, sounding like it's over-driven then extruded thru an AM radio speaker that's been toasted by the sun of fifty summers. The drums wallop solid, the bass rocks on its heels, and Burnette grooves like the boss he is.

When My Train Comes is bluesy, soulful southern rock with a gospel walk, and a hard blues barbequed slide solo. It swaggers like a trucker dead-heading home.

Dirty Gettin' Down is the soundtrack to that last whiskey and coke, that next-to-last joint, that home-recorded cassette tape you found in the trunk of your Uncle's Camaro, the sound of that steamin' dank Georgia Friday night party lit up by heat lightning, and it's the sound of you... walking out the door of the bar at closing time.

Husky Burnette and his band tell the troubled tales of bad women, and badder men, played with loud guitars, neck-cutting slide, with kickin' bass and drums. If there's such a thing as twenty-four-hour pentecostal metal party blues...this is it. A solid blue-hot revival of hard, dirty old blues done Husky Burnette-style! Say Amen, somebody!

Husky'll be hitting the road soon so pay attention. Meanwhile, pick up Ain't Nothin' But A Revival.