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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Jimbo Mathus & the Annunaki Playboys Live at The Raven Cafe in Prescott, Arizona

I caught wind that Jimbo Mathus was playing a show about 2 hours north of my home and I hightailed it to Prescott, AZ. I know that this doesn't seem like much of an effort but you got to know, I listen to new music every day, OK ...lets say 250-300 new releases yearly and for me to drive very far to see a show.... it better be damn good. Well, Jimbo Mathus never disappoints and yes, it was damn good! I arrived in Prescott just in time to get a seat and a beer before the Captain hit the stage to a standing crowd only performance. I was not one of the 500 million people who knew Mathus from his Squirrel Nut Zippers band and was delighted to find this guy through his association with Buddy Guy. The truth is I went to see Buddy Guy with a fellow guitar player and who watches the opening act . We were sitting there jawing away and waiting on Buddy Guy and I said to my buddy..."who is this guy?". Jimbo Mathus was the opening act and that day back in like 2001 was the day I found Mathus. He not only had the opening act, but he also played in Guys band. He knocked me out then and he knocks me out now. Jimbo's music is strongly rooted in the people, with heart. His passion for the music is genuine and his love and appreciation of his audience is obvious. Mathus played 3 sets beginning at around 8 and ending at Midnight. He did take 2 short breaks to catch his breath and sell a few t shirts, albums and CD's.

 I'm not great at taking notes but I do have some recollection of detail. His first set was laden nicely with tracks from his newest release Blue Healer, which is terrific by the way. I know that he played the title track, Blue Healer (above), which is one of my 2 favorites from the release as well as Coyote (below- which is the other). He also played Old Earl which is one of his story telling tracks. If you don't know Mathus' story telling, you are missing the boat. Mathus, like all of the true great performers, not only can get around on his instrument (I think he plays about everything) but can captivate his audience with clever tales. Old Earl is the one from the Blue Healer release.

 When I go to a concert, I really don't go as a reporter but as a part of the audience so forgive me for just enjoying the concert. I know that he played Shoot Out The Lights, a hot rocker, Tallatchie, a rural feeling song that I really love and one that I want to ask Mathus about later. It has one clever line that I will always remember... "Can't see you no more, newspapers say I sing". Excellent! Fire In The Canebreak, a swampy funk rocker along the lines of Little Feat, Tennessee Walker Mare, Aces and 8's, a tex mex track and Shine Like A Diamond.

His second set was really geared to audience participation with a Chuck Berry track, some R&B, Lowell Folsom's Tramp which was recorded by Mathus and Guy 15 years ago. Mathus played guitar with reckless abandon, something that I rarely see anyone but Buddy Guy do...superb! He also did real nice versions of Guitar Slim's, Things That I Used To Do and Hank Williams', Hey Good Looking. At my request he did one of my favorite country ballads, Fallen Angel. Mathus has a unique ability to take you somewhere that you want to be through his music. Another crowd favorite was John Fogerty's Stuck In Lodi. Whether it's blues, country, R&B, rock... this man has been there and he does it with intention. Raven Cafe employees were kind enough to clear a few tables for some tiny dancers near the stage and the crowd had a blast. I can't say that Mathus' music is for everyone. What I can say is, I don't get paid to do this. I do it because I love it. I go to see who I want to see, and when I see something terrific, I try to tell my friends. Well friends, this guy captures the soul of the blues in whatever he does. What does that mean? Listen to Skip James, early JL Hooker, Son House. These were men who believed in what they were doing. They liked to make a little money along the way, but they were playing real music, without the polish and all of the processing. Jimbo Mathus is the real deal. Go see him without expectations that he will blow you away on guitar. He can, he may... but go there to see a real artist perform his craft. You can thank me later!

The Annunaki Playboys are  Eric "Carlos San Pedro" Carlton - keys, Stuart "StuBaby" Cole - bass, Scott "Pako" Goolsby - guitar and Alex "Youngblood" Holeman - drums.

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  1. But Jimbo is the goods....he IS NOT for everybody, and will never be, or try to be. But he will take you by the hand and lead you if you want to go. Right to the living soul of the blues. I have been lucky to be able to have my last few years peppered with Jimbo moments in Memphis, and I count him as one of my favorites I have met here. As usual, I know him better than he would ever know me, I am just a fan, but he knows how I feel about it and is always happy to extend his hand to me. Glad you made the trip, you down-played it a bit, but there's 2 hour drives and there's 2 hour drives to and from BARS, lol, the two are VERY different, haha.

  2. If you want to check out something cool with Jimbo, check out the couple of videos I posted at Meet Me In Memphis (on FB), of Jimbo playing with his guest that night, CeDell Davis, a great ole blues man from Arkansas. You want to see JOY in Jimbo's face, watch those two work together. I will link you to one to get you in the neighborhood, then you can scroll down a few pages to find the rest, they are all priceless (Additional comment by OLS inadvertently deleted)