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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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Showing posts with label Watermelon Slim. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Watermelon Slim. Show all posts

Friday, March 13, 2020

Watermelon Slim - Traveling Man - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Traveling Man, from Watermelon Slim and it's quite good. Recorded Live at The Blue Door in Oklahoma City in 2016, these recordings capture the authenticity and focus of Slim's work. The first set, recorded on September 24, opens with Blue Freightliner, Slim on resonator slide guitar and vocal captures the spirit of the original delta blues. Deliberate, foot stomper, Northern Blues is one of my favorites with a great little guitar dun and perfect balance. Very nice! Substituting harmonica for guitar on Jimmy Bell, Slim shows another facet but the sound is still pure and all delta. Very cool. Wrapping the first set is Holler #4, a stripped down blues track with a skeletal framework set by slide resonator and pure hollering blues vocals. Solid closer. Set 2 (disc 2) was recorded at The Depot on February 28 and opens with a more commercial track, Let it Be In Memphis. Slim carries the melody of this more certain melody with ease , accenting the edges with lightning slide play. Traditional blues track, John Henry has a great fleet pace and short turn around slide riffs accent the track nicely. A particularly cool track in this second set is Devil's Cadillac, a eerily bluesy ballad. Not only is the story great but Slim's slide technique gives a minor tone and feel. Excellent! Wrapping the release is Dark Genius, a straight forward folk track with a blues overtone. This is a really solid set of tracks and definitely a show I'm happy to gear.



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Thursday, October 31, 2019

Ruf Records artist: Ghalia - Mississippi Blend - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Mississippi Blend, from Ghalia and it's got great attitude and style. Opening with, Gypsy Lady, a blues based track with a rockin beat, Brussels born Ghalia (Vauthier) Volt shows her understanding of real blues with it's raw feeling and emotion. Leading on vocal and slide guitar Volt has a lot of help from Lightnin' Malcolm on lead guitar, Dean Zucchero on bass and Cedric Burnside on drums. Easing into a swampy blues number, Meet You Down The Road has the kind of rawness you'd expect from the hill country with Watermelon Slim on harp, Smokehouse Brown on lead and slide guitar, Zucchero on bass and Burnside on drums. The dual slide guitar sound is intoxicating under her soulful vocals and the tight rhythms are perfectly punctuated by Burnside. Very cool. I really like heavy footed blues rocker, First Time I Died. It has real kick. Volt focuses on vocals and does a great job with excellent timing by Cody Dickinson on drums and a raw lead guitar by Brown. Excellent! Traditional song, Wade In The Water has a real nice spin with Volt and Watermelon Slim on lead vocal and Lightnin' Malcolm on lead guitar. Another real cool track is Shake & Repeat with a underscored boogie beat and super raw slide work by Volt. Additional lead vocal by Malcolm  and lead guitar by Brown give this track a nice edge. Super boogie, Why Don't You Sell Your Children starts off with a slower JLH style but ramps up to a full rocking boogie with Volt and Brown grinding the guitar and Volts sensuous vocals balancing the track. Very nice. Wrapping the release is I Thought I Told You Not To Tell Them, is a flat out rock 'n' roller with Berry style guitar riffs by Malcolm and Brown and the tight tight bottom by Zucchero and Dickinson. Excellent closer for a really cool release.


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Monday, February 18, 2019

Watermelon Slim - Church of the Blues - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Church of the Blues, from Watermelon Slim and it's great! From the time Slim opens on St. Peter's Ledger, this release is hot. Leading on slide and vocal and backed by John Allouise on bass, Brian Wells on drums and Bob Margolin on guitar, this is a super opener. On Muddy Waters' Gypsy Woman, Slim really takes the harp for a trip with hair curling squeals and vibrant Waters style slide work. Excellent!  Funky, New Orleans flavored Post Modern Blues has a great rhythm with Nick Schnebelen on slide, Matt Blagg on trumpet, Kevin Webb on trombone and Chris Hicks on sax. Very cool. Joe Louis Walker lends a soulful hand on electric guitar with gripping punch on Mni Wiconi . The Water Song with a light funk, R&B style horn backing and solid vocals. Really nice. One of my favorite on the release is That Ole 1-4-5 with it's traditional styling, strong vocals and with Ike Lamb and Slim sharing the excellent guitar lead. Mississippi Fred McDowell's 61 Highway Blues is another favorite with a real hill country style. This track really has a great groove. Wrapping the release is Too Much Alcohol with a strong taste of Johnny Winter. Slim's guitar style is different but the vibrancy is there. With Albert Castiglia on guitar and Slim leading the way, this is an excellent track. This is a really great set of tracks making one of the most enjoyable releases that I have listened to in a while. Check it out. 

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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Swing Suit Records artist: Mick Kolassa - Ghosts of the Riverside Hotel - New Release Review

I just received the most recent release, Ghosts of the Riverside Hotel, from Mick Kolassa. A cornucopia of blues like last years release by Kolassa, "Michissippi Mick" , the net proceeds will go to The Blues Foundation and Generation Blues. Opening with Hank Williams' Ramblin' Man, Kolassa on lead vocal and guitar, Jeff Jensen on Lead guitar, Bill Ruffino on bass, Robinson Bridgeforth on drums and Chris Stephenson on organ, this is an interesting track with march like rudiments and tasty guitar work. Slow swinging blues track, Grapes & Greens, featured nice electric guitar and slide work from Jensen and Eric Hughes on harp coupled with solid lead vocals by Kolassa. Lou Singer's depression era, One Meatball, gets a light reggae rhythm treatment under the vocal harmonizing by Reba Russell and bright piano passages by Victor Wainwright. I Always Meant To Love You is a swinging 12 bar with some real jazzy riffs from Jensen, complimented nicely by Kirk Smothers on sax and Wainwright on piano. Lighthearted Trouble, written by Todd Snider, has a cool swing. Kolassa's vocals are spot on, Santini takes a real nice harp solo on this track and Jensen throws in a few country influenced riffs of his own. Nothing Left To Lose (Robin's Blues) is a smooth jazzy blues ballad featuring Smothers on melodic sax. Kolassa's most serious vocal of the release are restrained but well placed and pointers by Smothers and Jensen are perfectly executed. Very nice! If I Ain't Fishin' has a cool pace with Wainwright and Hughes teaming up with tension against the calm. Randy Newman's, Mama Told Me Not To Come, made popular by Three Dog Night, gets a modified Chicago blues remake and a totally different type of cover. Kolassa uses an almost spoken delivery and Santini really wails on this one giving it it's best showing to my ears. On Whiskey Woman, Cole Layman trades lead guitar lines with Jensen and Logan Lyman lays down some cool funk bass. Chris Stephenson's organ solo punches up the track eliciting nice guitar soloing and even more pluckiness from Layman. Walkin' (Dead) Blues capitalizes on the current zombie obsession. With an Elmore James basic track, Kolassa gets the band cranked up with his frantic vocal antics. Santini gets his harp rolling hard and Jensen kicks out his best set of riffs on the release. Tongue in cheek but the hottest track on the release! Following a Magic Sam format, Mama's Got A Mojo, is a cool track with shimmery guitar soloing by Jensen over solid organ work by Stephenson. Real nice! Wrapping the release is Delta Town featuring Watermelon Slim on dobro and harp. Bridgeforth and Ruffino give the track a bit more structure and Kolassa leads the way. This is quite an enjoyable release with a bit of something for most blues lovers.

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Rum Boogie - Super Chikan and Watermelon Slim




James "Super Chikan" Johnson is a Blues Music Award winning American blues musician, artist and guitar maker based in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He is the nephew of fellow blues musician Big Jack Johnson.

James Louis Johnson was born in Darling, Mississippi on February 16, 1951. He spent his childhood moving from town to town in the Mississippi Delta and working on his family's farms. He was very fond of the chickens on the farm, and before he was old enough to work in the fields, he would walk around talking to them. This led his friends to give him the nickname "Chikan Boy". At an early age, Johnson got his first rudimentary musical instrument, a "diddley bow", which was simply a piece of wood with a piece of baling wire stretched from end to end. As he grew up, he came up with new ways to improve and vary the sounds he could make with it, and finally, in 1964, at the age of thirteen, he bought his first guitar, an acoustic model that had only two strings, from a Salvation Army store in Clarksdale.

As an adult, “Super Chikan” began driving a truck for a living. During the long stretches on the road, he began composing his own songs. When he showed some of the songs to his friends, they convinced him to go a studio and record them. He then started playing with some renowned local musicians, but he decided he would rather perform on his own than try to conform his style to that of his band-mates.


Bill "Watermelon Slim" Homans has built a remarkable reputation with his raw, impassioned intensity. HARP Magazine wrote "From sizzling slide guitar...to nitty-gritty harp blowing...to a gruff, resonating Okie twang, Slim delivers acutely personal workingman blues with both hands on the wheel of life, a bottle of hooch in his pocket, and the Bible on the passenger seat." Paste Magazine writes "He's one hell of a bottleneck guitarist, and he's got that cry in his voice that only the greatest singers in the genre have had before him."

The industry agrees on all fronts. Watermelon Slim & The Workers have garnered 17 Blues Music Award nominations in four years including a record-tying six in both 2007 & 2008. Only the likes of B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Robert Cray have landed six in a year and Slim is the only blues artist in history with twelve in two consecutive years. In Spring 2009 he was the cover story of Blues Revue magazine. Now, Watermelon Slim is making more waves with Escape From the Chicken Coop, his first-person account of the days he spent driving a truck. It is just one of many instances of a life spent changing gears.