Archives for category: Blues Music

The Big Joe Shelton Live from Mississippi Interview

photo courtesy Big Joe Shelton

photo courtesy Big Joe Shelton

Willie King was really an influential guy, not so much as teaching me his style of music, but he was a good person and he had love in his heart for everyone. That was a life lesson just knowing him in those terms.” – Big Joe Shelton

Big Joe Shelton headed into 2013 off of a nomination in 2012 at The Blues Music Awards in Memphis, Tennessee for “Song of the Year” with high expectations on this years’ new release I’d Never Let Her Down.  Straight out of the box on the Rock and Roll Shuffle “Frog’s Hair,” he announces who you got on the turntable, “I’m Big Joe Shelton, come to play your town…”

Indeed, this is a confidant record having released two strong albums over the last four years of original material, Big Joe Shelton seems to be playing his cards close to home with lyrics that are stuff that the average working guy can relate to when times can be a little tough, but you have a strong woman at home that still keeps a little paradise under the dashboard light.

The title track, “I’d Never Let Her Down”  really tells the story of a guy still living the American dream of running around, maybe a musician pulling an all-nighter with a totally supportive woman at home, he easily says “She expects nothin’ of me and I’d never let her down.” In reality, this is what every Artist wishes to have; an understanding partner while they figure it all out instead of nag, nag, nag.

Big Joe has some strong harp playing throughout, but the emphasis is on lyrics that everybody can relate to. These are story songs much like a Junior Brown tune with a Roadhouse Blues feel that don’t necessarily point to any certain neighborhood in Mississippi, but explore any where he wants to go from a huge nod to Reggae on “Stop The Hating” to the Classic Country of “Catfish Ed” as a homage to one of his earliest influences “Catfish” Ed Reed who was a regional Country Artist he got to know back when.

One of the most recent influences in Big Joe’s life as a way to approach ideas was the late great Willie “Sweet Potato Man” King and Big Joe continues to let the world know about Willie through song on “Little Willie” with a Bo Diddley beat and a call and response dead on of Johnny Otis, “ Willie and The Hand Jive” of all things, a homage of the tales Willie King shared about how he started playing music.

There are change-ups all over the place from “Riding With The Wind” which evokes The Doors “Riders On The Storm” played out like Santana jamming “Black Magic Woman” all the way to strange coincidences like “Pity Party” following the same pattern as Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers’ track “Hospital” played more as a lounge act on Saturday Night Live instead of The Velvet Underground at a Boston College frat party.

Big Joe Shelton crossed paths with Big Joe Williams early on and he carries the torch of that bigger than life blues persona of people like the aforementioned Big Joe Williams and another Black Prairie alumni Howlin’ Wolf while throwing in a little Dr. John and Junior Brown storytelling which may have come through from the early Country influences of “Catfish” Ed Reed on the importance of telling a great story or spin a tale that hits home.

big joe shelton albumThe recording is superb having been recorded close to home in Starkville, Mississippi and Mastered at the Ardent Studios complex known for all the ZZ Top albums up to Eliminator as well as Led Zeppelin 3 and the Big Star era Alex Chilton material by Larry Nix Mastering which now houses the original fully restored Neumann lathe that was used by Stax for cutting vinyl.

Big Joe Shelton and The Black Prairie Ambassadors caught up with The Nashville Bridge at the end of a very busy October. He puts on one hell of a show.  In fact, there is enough Rock & Roll Roadhouse Blues to keep a bikers rally in the Black Hills rollin’ along and he tends to wear biker influenced Lansky’s of Memphis [clothier to the King, Elvis] silk shirts while blowing some serious “Mississippi Sax” that would make any Rolling Stones “Midnight Rambler” happy.

Brad Hardisty / The Nashville Bridge: I know you live down in the Black Prairie area of Mississippi. That’s not something I am familiar with. I am a little bit after seeing you live at The Bukka White Festival in Aberdeen. Did you grow up there?

 Big Joe Shelton: Yes, the Black Prairie lays hard up against the Alabama line a little north of Midway down the state. The Black Prairies are the prehistoric  flood plains of the Tombigbee river  that starts up in the Northeast corner of the state towards Alabama and runs midway down the state where  it then crosses over into Alabama. It is named the Black Prairies because of the dark, rich soil deposited by the flooding river thousands of years ago.

TNB: Did you say that was the area Howlin’ Wolf was from?

BJS: Yes, some of our Blues icons from this area are Howlin’ Wolf who was born up in Clay County Mississippi, it’s called White Station, a little community out there and that was his birthplace. I think he lived there till about eleven years old or so then he jumped the train and went over to the Delta to find his Aunt over there and lived with them. Also, about 20 miles south of that is where Big Joe Williams lived across the Mississippi and that was in Lowndes County Mississippi which was the county where I was born in and I was fortunate enough to see Big Joe and get to know him a little bit back in the early 70’s when he quit his ramblin’ around and set down in Crawford. I kind of sought him out. I was kind of like his local Road Manager maybe book him a gig here and there or take him to some joints and set his stuff up for him; just kind of being in his presence, learning at the feet of a Master in Blues, Man. It was not like he taught me. He has a particular kind of music, but it was just kind of like just being in the presence of a great Blues Artist. Also, Bukka White was from up around Houston, Mississippi and he was another one of our famous blues guys from this area. A more contemporary Artist would be Mr. Willie King. I think you are familiar with him through some friends of ours. Willie was from out here in Noxubee County out where I now live. I live in Macon, Mississippi which is about 30 miles south of Columbus and Macon is a very agricultural area. Willie was born here and then he moved right across the Alabama state line to Old Memphis, Alabama.

TNB: I was wondering because I knew he was known as an Alabama Blues man – “The Sweet Potato Man”, but I didn’t know if he born in Alabama or not, so, that kind of clarifies things for me.

BJS: Yeah, he probably never lived more than five or six miles from the state line so he didn’t travel very far when he decided to settle down. A matter of fact, on the Mississippi Blues markers, he is on the one down here in Macon.  You are familiar with those markers, I’m sure.

TNB: I’ll have to catch that one when I am over there.

BJS: Yeah, Willie is on it. It has quite a few names on it, Eddy Clearwater, Carrie Bell and Willie were the three main honorees, plus, it mentions some more obscure artists from this area too.

TNB: I got a real kick out of you writing a song about Willie King. I don’t know if Debbie Bond [band member of late great Willie king’s band] knows about the song. I tried telling her about that when I received an email from her.

photo courtesy Big Joe Shelton

photo courtesy Big Joe Shelton

BJS: I was a young’un when I was hanging with Big Joe Williams, but with Willie I was more of a…I would like to think, a peer to some extent and his influence  on me was more about striving to be a better man with love and compassion in my heart.

TNB: I hope people pick up the fact that that song is about Willie King. Obviously, when you do it “Live” you let people know about that.

BJS: Right. My 2008 release is a song titled Black Prairie Blues and and in that song I sing about blues artists from the Black Prairie;  Willie, Bukka White,  Howlin’ Wolf and Big Joe [Williams] and in the last verse I say “ on a Sunday night and Willie King is playin’ all night long.” I guess that they would know what that was about.  That was like a real Prairie theme. I also pay homage to Wille by including songs dealing with social consciousness. He inspired me to speak up about social injustice.

TNB: That is very cool. I could tell in your album, you are actually kind of playing all of your influences. It’s not something where you can make it definitive where this is “Hill Country” because there is “boogie” there is “Rock & Roll” there is, you know “Little Willie” reminds of “Willie & The Hand Jive,” kind of the same beat and stuff.

BJS: Yeah, it’s based on like a Bo Diddley beat kind of a thing too. The way the percussion and all goes on there and then it morphs kind of into a Rock kind of thing it then kind of goes back and forth. I just kind of take all my influences and things and see what I can come up with. I like to refer to my music as “Being rooted in the past but conceived in the present. “ You know, keeping it fresh and current. You know, the themes of it are current and maybe kind of push the envelope a little bit. I love traditional blues with all my heart, but if that were all we were doing then it would be a dying art, I believe.

TNB: I would say that in your lyrics you tell a lot of stories and rather than saying a lot of blues particular phrasing like four lines that are being repeated over and over through the song, you are telling a story kind of like a traditional Country song a lot of the time. It reminds me a little of Junior Brown’s writing because sometimes you are a little tongue in cheek. Is that a good comparison?

photo courtesy Big Joe Shelton

photo courtesy Big Joe Shelton

BJS: That is a good comparison.  That is a good analogy. I do try to tell stories. It’s like a good fish story. You never let the truth stand in the way of a good story. Also, like a lot of things, humor will grab people’s attention pretty quickly too and sometimes when you are on a touch y subject or something with a little humor injected you can turn it that way or it will cause people to accept it more or listen to it a little more than if you were just trying to ram something down their throat. The storytelling; that is what I enjoy and almost all of my music is inspired by the people and the culture and the music of the Black Prairie that I have known all my life and interacted with, you know things, I have gone to bar-b-cues and fish fries, chitlin’ cookings and just whatever happens to be goin’ on in this area since I was a kid. But, also by the same token, I grew up like a lot of baby boomers grew up, listening to radio and whatever was popular at the time. A lot of that music back in the 50’s and 60’s was inspired by blues during that time. I remember riding my bicycle to hear Roy Orbison at the local Women’s College when I was back in third grade in ’59 or so. So, I was always drawn to musicians and such. My first remembrance of hearing blues was when I was in Pre-School on the downtown streets of Columbus and there was a black guy that played harmonica outside the “Five & Dime” store and I can remember walking by with my parents on many occasions and seeing him out there. I didn’t realize it was the blues, but he was playing the harmonica and whatever it was that he was playing. It got my attention in the following years when I grew older and learned a little about music and started adding my own taste. I kind of realized that I was living here in the midst of something special that a lot of the music I was listening to on the radio had roots in. That kind of led me to seek out Big Joe, when I realized that Big Joe Williams lived in Crawford, just about an hour away. I think he was playing somewhere and I remembered I was familiar with that name from somewhere and then I realized how actually famous and influential he was in the blues world. I was fortunate to be born in this area, but I was also aware enough to seek out and investigate what it had to offer. 

TNB: It sounds like you grew up around blues and appreciating blues but did you start out playing “Rock & Roll?” You play Sax as well, that is what I have seen on the web.

BJS: No, actually “Mississippi Saxophone” is what I play, that is what we call a harmonica down here. I started out singing at church functions and school like grade school plays and stuff and I always got in grade school plays. A lot of times, you get lead parts and you get to sing. In Junior High School, I got into sports and I thought, “cool,” you know? So, I kind of put it behind me through High School.  I played a little guitar, but not much to speak of and I had a lot of friends that were in bands during that time and then out of High School and all. When I got to College, I started trying to learn how to play music and investigate more and that is when I started getting more interest in it, but it was almost like a serious hobby kind of thing. I was more of a harmonica player and I am barely a guitar player and it was hard especially, back in that day unless you were a pure bluesman and there weren’t many around that I knew of, you know, my age, contemporary people of my age. It was hard for them to take you on as a band member as a harmonica player so it was, I guess, I really started kind of writing songs for real   probably in the mid to late 70’s when I moved outside of Chicago when I was going to college.

TNB: So you were going to school in Chicago, did you start writing blues when you first started writing?

photo courtesy Big Joe Shelton

photo courtesy Big Joe Shelton

BJS:  My earliest songwriting influence was on the song “Catfish Ed” and Ed Reed was a local Country musician and I used to gravitate toward him and in some point in time I learned that a lot of the songs he was singing were original songs and it dawned on me that, you know, even to my young untrained ear they sounded as good of songs as any Jimmy Reed or Hank Williams song in the world and could make your hair stand on end, but he was also a creative artist and that kind of influenced me to start writing songs. About the mid ‘70’s or so, moving up to Chicago and in that area I started putting some lyrics together and I had a little bit of life experience under my belt and I just kind of started piddling with it and jotting things down and re-working them so one thing lead to another and I realized I could string a few words together. Another famous songwriter that is from Vernon, Alabama that is just right across the state line named Dan Penn was a big influence. Dan is a couple years older than me, but I met him years ago.  He used to come over here when he was a younger man to Columbus and there used to be a lot of clubs.

Lowndes County Mississippi was the only “Wet” county for a hundred mile radius and Dan used to come over here and hang with some of the older guys that I knew. So I was aware of his success when he started producing and writing some songs up at Stax and Muscle Shoals and that had an impact on my songwriting sensibilities as well. I am also a visual artist and have always recognized my creativity and been willing  and been willing to pursue it in where ever it led.

TNB: I think that helps you keep control of your career and what you are shooting for. What I see, is that your music can cross genres like Classic Country with what you are doing, you are writing “average guy” kind of lyrics. A guy who is happily married, but gets kind of feisty now and then. I mean your stories are about being appreciative of a good woman, things like that. It’s like what Country used to be. It was guy’s music, listened to by truck drivers, working guys…

BJS: This new record especially has a little more of that, especially with the new “Catfish Ed” song. It has a little more of a feel to that, more storytelling. Some of my earlier work was more “Whiskey and Women” kind of thing.  More of your classic blues canon of subject, I guess you would say, but, then again, I would also try to put humor in a lot of those things and then the older I get, as my last record was called The Older I Get The Better I Was , but, the older I get I grow more appreciative of what life has provided me and the place I am now in life, having someone that I can totally trust and rely on and understands me and encourages me to be the person that I am. That is invaluable to an Artist. Some Artists muses are negative and they thrive on, well, not thrive, but they have influences from maybe not happy situations. I have been there and done that too and have done music from that perspective and I probably will in the future I’m sure.  It’s nice to have such a positive kind of a thing, to come at it from that side too. You know, blues is not all about sorrow and such. There is a way of coping in life through blues too.

TNB: Very therapeutic in some respects.

BJS: Yeah, celebrating good things just as well as bad. I really do believe in my heart that is the way it works for me, to see all sides of it. One thing is if you just look at it from one view point it is going to narrow your scope and your options and the more receptive whatever the idea is surrounding you in your mind, it offers you more opportunities and more avenues kind of songs and music and such.

TNB: Any shows coming up?

BJS: Actually, October was the last big month. I have a few private things coming up, a benefit or two, but, nothing at the moment. As a matter of fact, you might want to put that I am starting to put my early spring schedule together if they would like to contact me.

 TNB: I guess “Frog’s Hair” [first track on new album] is some kind of traditional thing down there?

photo courtesy Big Joe Shelton

photo courtesy Big Joe Shelton

BJS: It’s like it’s as scarce as chicken’s feet. You know there is no such thing as chicken feet, but I guess it would be pretty slick to come across a frog with hair. It’s the same kind of thing.

–          Brad Hardisty, Nashvllle, TN     thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom

 

Luther Dickinson, North Mississippi Allstars, Cannery Ballroom 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Luther Dickinson, North Mississippi Allstars, Cannery Ballroom 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

Hill Country Meet Me In The City!

Mississippi was represented by Luther & Cody Dickinson bringing North Mississippi Allstars to the Cannery Ballroom during this year’s Americana Music Festival on September 19th with solid slide and Hill Country influenced tones.

Turn it to 11 Luther - North Mississippi Allstars at Cannery Ballroom, Sept 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Turn it to 11 Luther – North Mississippi Allstars at Cannery Ballroom, Sept 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

They released their seventh album World Boogie Is Coming  [A Bukka White term]in September which was produced by themselves at their own Zebra Ranch Studios in Coldwater, MS, aside from a day in the studio with Robert Plant (and his harmonica) at Memphis’ legendary Royal Studios. The Dickinson Brothers did it with the help of long-time friends, Lightnin’ Malcolm, Duwayne and Garry Burnside, Kenny Brown, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Sharde Thomas, Chris Chew, Sid and Steve Selvidge, Plant and others.

Lightnin Malcolm, North Mississippi Allstars at Cannery Ballroom, Sept 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Lightnin Malcolm, North Mississippi Allstars at Cannery Ballroom, Sept 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

 

Stud, Grandson of T Model Ford, North Mississippi Allstars at Cannery Ballroom, Sept 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Stud, Grandson of T Model Ford, North Mississippi Allstars at Cannery Ballroom, Sept 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

The current line-up feature well known Hill Country Blues Guitarist, Lightnin’ Malcolm on Bass, as well as a spotlight with Lightnin’s current two man juke joint drummer, Stud, Grandson of T Model Ford on a couple of tunes adding extra percussion to new tune “Shimmy.”

 

Luther Dickinson - North Mississippi Allstars at Cannery Ballroom, Sept 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Luther Dickinson – North Mississippi Allstars at Cannery Ballroom, Sept 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

It’s hard to believe that North Mississippi Allstars has been around since 1996. They established themselves bringing current great players from the most current Mississippi scene to the stages of Bonnaroo and other festivals.

Lightnin Malcolm switching to guitar, North Mississippi Allstars at Cannery Ballroom, Sept 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

Lightnin Malcolm switching to guitar, North Mississippi Allstars at Cannery Ballroom, Sept 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

It all started about the time that Fat Possum started exposing Hill Country Blues to the world with the newest originator, Junior Kimbrough as well as the electronic re-mixes that went viral around the world of R.L. Burnside that featured a young Grandson, Cedric Burnside on drums.

Luther switches off to Bass, North Mississippi Allstars at Cannery, photo - Brad Hardisty

Luther switches off to Bass, North Mississippi Allstars at Cannery, photo – Brad Hardisty

North Mississippi Allstars may have been what the great promoter; Bill Graham would have envisioned when he would put bills together in the 60’s at The Fillmore West that included blues great Muddy Waters and others along with the Modern San Francisco scene. The band is carrying that tradition along and looking at all avenues to explore and keep the Blues “in-play.”

Luther on 2 strings and a can - North Mississippi Allstars, photo - Brad Hardisty

Luther on 2 strings and a can – North Mississippi Allstars, photo – Brad Hardisty

Mississippi vibe was in the house especially when Luther picked up his electrified Diddley Bow and did “Rollin & Tumblin.”

The Cannery Ballroom, Sept 2013, photo - Brad Hardisty

The Cannery Ballroom, Sept 2013, photo – Brad Hardisty

The Cannery Ballroom provided great acoustics and an intimate venue of 1000 or so fans that really enjoy music.

–          Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN    thenashvillebridgeathotmail.com

mando blues 05062013 025Local Recording Artist Jeff Blaney, a familiar face at Family Wash spent Monday night taping The Mando Blues Radio Show high on a remote mountain ridge well outside Nashville city limits in what seemed like Seattle rain forest like weather in a MASH clinic tent for tonight’s broadcast with a full house of local and regional musical comrades there to check out the music, vibes and food.

mando blues 05062013 006While Jeff was tuning up with Geoff Henderson on Bass, Shade Kling on acoustic rhythm and Justin Amaral on the skins, Alabama Blueswoman, Debbie Bond, keyboardist Rick Asherson, Flecktones’ Futureman aka Roy Wooten, DJ Mojo from the blues show “Spoonful” on WVOL 1470, Tony Gerber and others were catching up and talking about what has been going on since the last get together.

mando blues 05062013 011 smallThe latest buzz was about Gip’s Place in Bessemer, Alabama that had been shut down by the Bessemer Police for not having a business license when it has been operating as a juke joint in a residence since 1952 and doesn’t serve food or alcohol.

mando blues 05062013 036Host of Mando Blues, Whit Hubner gave a shout out of support to Henry “Gip” Gipson and just basically said leave the man alone.

mando blues 05062013 021Jeff Blaney showcased more of his bluesier style songs for the show, but, didn’t avoid some of the more countrified flavors featured on his latest full EP Labor Of Love on Very Entertaining Records.

mando blues 05062013 004mando blues 05062013 035 smallJeff brought some label mates music as well as some music from his hometown mentors that strayed into blues and ragtime for the in between live music sets.

mando blues 05062013 038 smallJeff shifted gears from blues chord styled singer/songwriter narratives to Bo Diddley inspired jams and beyond.

mando blues 05062013 039 smallJeff played most of the songs off his most recent release including “Going Right Back Home To My Baby”, “ Shake That Thing” and “Come With Me.”

mando blues 05062013 028Bill Davis joined the band for a couple of songs towards the end of the set.

mando blues 05062013 014Everybody stayed around for cornbread and roast beast straight out of the cast iron wood burning stove.

mando blues 05062013 037mando blues 05062013 041mando blues 05062013 043 smallThe Mando Blues Radio Show staff was extremely gracious and taped another BBC In Session quality rivaling broadcast.

mando blues 05062013 016 smallAll photos © 2013 Brad Hardisty

–          Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

Gip's Place, Bessemer, alabama

Gip’s Place, Bessemer, alabama

Owner Henry Gipson (aka Mr. Gip) had his residence, known as Gip’s Place for over 60 years for “house parties” that are as close to a good ol’ juke joint that Alabama has left was closed down on May 4th, 2013, for not having the proper business license by Bessemer Police.

Debbie Bond at Mando Blues, photo - Brad Hardisty

Debbie Bond at Mando Blues, photo – Brad Hardisty

The residence was never intended to be a business since Gip doesn’t serve food or drink and is a BYOB place where blues lovers can enjoy regional blues masters like Debbie Bond as well as national performers such as Bobby Rush jam in front of a Birmingham area get together.

Opened in 1952, Gip’s Place was considered a “house party” and not a business and was considered a bright spot on the Bessemer, Alabama map.

There is a meeting today, Tuesday May 7th at 6PM before the Bessemer City Council regarding the matter. Please be there, if you can attend. For further information contact Mayor Kenneth Gulley’s Assistant by email : mayorasst@bessemeral.org.

If you would like to find out how you can support Henry Gipson and Gip’s Place contact Cindi McGee at cindig34@hotmail.com.

A poll being conducted on al.org shows that an overwhelming 64% want Gip to be left alone by the city of Bessemer.

The closing of one of the last of Alabama’s true juke joints is creating international media attention.

Feel free to leave comments here, if you like. I will forward comments to those involved in supporting Henry Gipson and his privately owned residence. I am in contact, right now, with those involved in showing support in Alabama I will post updates when available here on The Nashville Bridge.

Feel free to link this article to your Facebook page or re-blog and get the word out. This is all about property rights, liberty and pursuit of the Blues! Be in Bessemer, Alabama by 6Pm if you can.

Blues Power!

Reports from Bessemer City Council Meeting regarding the closing of Blues Hall of Fame Member Gip Gipson’s Juke Joint: The following was a live text feed from inside the council meeting last night:

 6:59PM The City Council will not even schedule the issue on the agenda. They claim they needed a weeks notice – though they shut down Gip’s on Saturday.

7:01 PM One person will be allowed to speak at the end of the meeting for 3 minutes.

7:09 PM The Circle X Film Group that is in the process of producing a documentary film on Gip’s is in the council hall filming for the doc. 

7:10PM Many wouldn’t sign the film release. They will be blocked out. The city council is sitting here recognizing the achievements in poetry writing of the local kids… 

7:15 PM All local news outlets are providing coverage.

7:24 PM Gip just arrived to a round of applause. 

 A single council member suggests that Gip’s should be moved out of the neighborhood and provided a venue near other city attractions.  There is no response from any other council member.  The Council President says that moving doesn’t matter because that involves another process and the problem is that Gip is operating an illegal business. 

7:58 PM Gip speaks before the council: States that he is going to do what he is going to do and there’s not going to be a license and he’s not going to move. 

Other members of the community are allowed to speak for three min each.

8:05 PM All speakers, community members, neighbors are in support.  Much is said about the heritage that needs to be preserved and the failure of the leadership of City of Bessemer to have a vision that upholds the traditions of the community and the wider heritage of American music history.

People speak of the failure of the city to do anything related to crime, abandoned houses and other blight in the same area yet they are singling out a man that gives back to his community through charitable work and has brought pride and recognition to the town.  That until the City shut down Gip’s they featured his Juke Joint on their website. 

The council president will not allow anymore public comment related to the heritage and unique history of Gip’s.

There has not been a SINGLE person at the meeting who has raised any complaint or spoken against Gip.

 8:07 PM Reporter from Italy is speaking up. The Council President tries to have her sit down, she moves to the mic anyway and describes how people in Italy see the value of preserving their cultural treasures and she cannot fathom why the city cannot see what they are doing is the destruction of American heritage.  She says that Gip’s Place is like nowhere else in the world and an incredible example of Southern culture. 

8:10 PM The city council pres is saying no more public comment. Many people are still raising their hands to be recognized.  Now the Mayor is saying that no one is above the law and that he receives complaints from the neighbors every week about children seeing people urinating in their yards. The mayor is asked where these complainants are and told that there are more neighbors that wish to speak in support of Gip.  They are not recognized.  The Mayor calls the public assembly a mob. The council President tells the police to prepare to clear the room If any one else tries to speak.  He singles out several previously recognized speakers to be removed if they say anything else.

8:12 PM A lady minister stands up and is trying to speak about peacefully working with the city to resolve this issue and the President told her to sit down. He states only the council is allowed to speak. The Police are to remove anyone else who defies the end of public commentary.

The city attorney speaks declaring that all members of the government and the police are required to honor their oaths to enforce the law and no man is above the law.  He states that if the public wishes to change they are welcome to go through the process of changing the law.

8:19 PM – The council motions to adjourn.  They call the meeting to a close. 

Gip after leaving the council building is greeted by news crews, film makers & and the rest of his supporters who could not get into the assembly.  The meeting was filled to capacity. – live text from T. Moreaux, Church of the Last World Singers

There are many questions as to why local city goverment is getting involved when this has been a major pride of the neighborhood since 1952 and at this point unsubstantiated allegations are being pursued regarding neighbor complaints even though many neighbors were in attendance to speak on Gip’s behalf but were not allowed to speak.

Update from 5/11/2013 – Gip did open up last saturday night, but, there were two police roadblocks going in and out of the area with a total of aproximately ten troopers, according to my source, looking for any reason to ticket any patrons going in an out of Gip’s Place. Gip also closed down early at 11 PM. Although there was a police presence that was intimidating patrons of his house party, they did not attmept to shut it down…stay posted. 

–          Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN      thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

jimmy wolf 03Jimmy Wolf pays some due respect on the self-released A Tribute to Little Johnny Taylor to the Conway, Arkansas native that shows the blues did not start and end in Mississippi. Little Johnny Taylor’s approach was sometimes compared to Bobby Bland although Little Johnny Taylor had several successful R&B chart successes of his own in the 60’s and 70’s  which included a couple of pop crossover hits “Part Time Love” and “Everybody Knows About My Good Thing” which are both featured on this collection.

jimmy wolf 07Jimmy Wolf makes some use of his deep knowledge of living and playing on Memphis’ Ground Zero for the Blues down B.B. and Furry Lewis’ playground; Beale Street where he spent several years jamming with some artists that one wouldn’t know much about unless you spent time listening to the late great Fred Saunders among others.

jimmy wolf 02By picking from the Little Johnny Taylor catalog, Jimmy Wolf has a deep reservoir of great songs that have not been exploited time and time again. Many of the songs on this album may be a first listen to a lot of new blues fans just like when Eric Clapton brought Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads” to a modern generation. In fact, the material is so strong; Jimmy could have easily done a Volume Two.

The gatefold photos of Jimmy with Little Johnny Taylor probably back when he was playing in Memphis and a shot closer to when Little Johnny Taylor  passed away is worth the price of admission alone. Jimmy probably has some great stories about playing with the greats in Memphis for a big chunk of his life.

“Walking The Floor” kicks off with a swing boogie sing-a-long that would get any room going. He’s got a strong band on this album and Jimmy’s first hand Memphis experience with a cross of Albert Collins’ Ice Pick bite and Albert King’s early 70’s lead vibe has lots of swagger and nasty string bends.  Jimmy plays like he has something to prove.

jimmy wolf 04“Zig Zag Lightning” has the strident snare 1-2-3-4 hits of the original Galaxy records cut but with a little bit of some modern Memphis street funk especially in the hi-hat accents and plenty of B3 vibe thrown in. Jimmy’s playing is smooth almost Curtis Mayfield groove before hitting the pedal for his lead break which breaks through a sheet of ice and staggers through a big gain stage closeout reminiscent of what Gary Moore was after with the blues before passing away with some Paul Kossoff trigger finger vibrato..

jimmy wolf 05Everybody Knows About My Good Thing” kicks out the beginning with a little Albert King on the V type break. Jimmy plays as if he has to get the crowd response hear and now. The playing is not laid back for the record. This might as well have been recorded on a hot august night down on Beale Street where the crowd will walk out on you if they aint feelin’ it. Jimmy’s good thing is solid cut through the mix lead breaks.

Other stand-out tracks are “Junkie For Your Love” with the 70’s wah blues lead-in to some serious groove as well as the barn burning classic “Part Time Love,”

jimmy wolf 06The album is a big enough showpiece that Jimmy Wolf and his band, Thomas “T.C.” Carter on Bass, Joe “Lawd Deez” Cummings on Keys and Stephen “Rythmcnasty” Bender on drums should be doing a multi-night stand at The Drop Zone in Northern Arkansas while Conway gives Jimmy the key to the city and proclaims Little Johnny Taylor day.

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 027 smallDebbie Bond was the guest last Monday night on WRFN Radio Free Nashville’s Mando Blues Show recorded in a huge army tent at Omega Studio high on the top of a peak at an undisclosed location in the nearby Nashville wilderness.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 030 smalldebbie bond mando blues 04082013 028 smallA fantastic crew with Tony Gerber , known for his electronic music compositions, acting as host for the night, went to work on soundcheck with Debbie and her band featuring Rick Asherson on keyboards and Dave Crenshaw on drums getting a much bigger than it looks sound going into the green spec recording layout.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 014 smallOmega has developed a layout for power using not much more than six car batteries, car stereo amplifiers and LED lighting to run at a deceptively low 1600 watts with state of the art recording as can be seen by linking to the net recordings of the summit.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 023 smallDebbie brought much more than just blues experience playing with Willie King and Johnny Shines for almost thirty years in Alabama displaying soulful grooves with a nod to Muscle Shoals, Alabama writers like Eddie Hinton, Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham. In this case, the western Alabama juke joint grooves may be at the heart, but, this was soulful blues.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 020 smallDebbie brought three new songs that will be featured on her next album, “Find A Way,” That Thing Called Love” and “Steady Rolling Man,” that fit right in with “I like It Like That” from her days with Willie King as well as some songs from her most current release Hearts Are Wild with a stand-out version of the slow ballad blues of “Falling.”

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 037 smallNashville session saxophonist Tom Pallardy sat in later in the set after a successful collaborative prior night set at The Nashville Jazz and Blues Awards at Bourbon Street in Printers Alley.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 035 smallHost Tony Gerber paid tribute to female blues artists with his in-between tracks that also featured some rare Richie Havens and alternative version material.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 010 smallMando Blues is an esoteric record store workers dream where true collectors and music geeks get to hear all things blues and related materials. They all get a little spotlight. There may be no show quite like this in the world.

An invited group of about 10-12 people got to sit-in on the live recording happening that fit a BBC type production with high production values and plenty of meat in the interview.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 013 smallTony asked the right questions that will give any listener the feeling they knew where Debbie came from and what she is about after listening to the two hour show.

Although there are provided links to watch video of each one of the songs, it is well worth the price of free admission to listen to the entire show to get the interview segments as well as Rick’s “Monty Python meets Muscle Shoals” sense of humor.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 007 smallDebbie is a native of California, but, her time growing up was spent in England and Europe while Rick’s roots are Londontown. Debbie and Rick almost crossed paths in College back in England, but, never actually met until Alabama Bluesman, Willie “Sweet Potato Man” King suggested they get to know one another in Western Alabama.

Roy Wooten aka “Futureman” stopped by to listen in and dug the Alabama soul groove coming out of the eventual four piece band with Rick sometimes playing the utility guy playing bass with one hand on the Nord keyboard and blues harp with the other hand and singing back – up vocals. If he had one more arm, they probably could have a full horn section.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 029 smallTom Pallardy’s sax fit right into the song as if he had been playing with Debbie for years but, in reality he had not heard much of the material. Dave Crenshaw brought down the volume on the drum kit to match the production set up without losing any of the grooves, in fact, it brought out the true dynamics of the songs.

Debbie was so happy with the production and final mix of the material that she has already talked about further recording collaboration with the Omega team.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 039 smallIt can be said, that there is probably know recording studio like it in the world, with its MASH style tent set up and being at the mountain peak as well as a crew with ears straight out of a JBL lab anechoic chamber. They know what they are doing and they love what they are producing.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 016 smallWhile production was going on, some of the staff was busy cooking a meal fit for a king in a wood burning cast iron stove in cast iron pots.  The band and crew were treated to Venison Stew, fresh picked greens and chicken after the final wrap.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 008 small–          Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

all photos (c) Brad Hardisty

photo - Scott Toepfer

photo – Scott Toepfer

Somewhere in Texas, The Nashville Bridge caught up with Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band  as they  geared up for SXSW following a successful first leg of the Big Damn Blues Revolution Tour with Jimbo Mathus, purveyor off all things “Southern” and Alvin Youngblood Hart.

The latest album the Side One Dummy Records release Between The Ditches which debuted at Number One on the iTunes Blues Charts the week of its release, has caught on all over the country after 250 shows a year that has left blood, sweat and tears on stages all over North America

The first single, “Devils Look like Angels,” featured a great video and has been popular on YouTube and Blues and Americana radio.

photo - Scott Toepfer

photo – Scott Toepfer

Nashville has been a regular stop for Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band after finding a solid supportive crowd with their mix of Country Blues that sits somewhere between Blues, Country and the local Americana Scene. The Reverend will be stopping through Nashville March 20th at Exit/ In on Nashville’s Rock Block with wife, Breezy Peyton on washboard and his cousin Aaron Persinger on drums continuing The Big Damn Blues Revolution Tour with a full entourage and possible special guests.

Reverend Peyton shared some insight about why they have been doing so well this year.

Brad Hardisty / The Nashville Bridge: Where are you guys at right now?

Reverend Peyton: We are two hours from Dallas. Texarkana, I Believe.

TNB: Well you are in the south.

RP: Yeah. We were in Little Rock, Arkansas last night and now we are heading out towards our SXSW shows.

TNB: That is coming up here pretty quick.

RP: Yeah, we just did the first leg of the Big Damn Blues Revolution Tour. It will pick back up in Nashville (Exit/In March 20th) after SXSW.

TNB: You make Nashville a regular stop.

RP: We have.  We have played a lot of different venues in Nashville. We’ve played so many of ‘em and I think Exit/In is the best one. I love that place.

TNB: I have heard a lot about you guys around town. I’m sure you’ve done the Grimey’s in-store.

photo - Scott Toepfer

photo – Scott Toepfer

RP: Oh Yeah, we’ve played a Grimey’s in-store…two or three of ‘em. I just love Mike. He’s a fan and The Basement’s really cool too!  It’s an intimate place and you know Grimey’s is just such a great place. Mike is such a music fan, you know.  Like, all the bands that come through there and all the people that he deals with and he’s still a fan, you know. He’s cool.

TNB: The Basement is pretty cool, that is where Justin Townes Earle used to play there all the time when he first started with The Good Life and all that.  Even Metallica did a Live At Grimey’s disc at The Basement. They wanted to play Grimey’s but it was too small so they played at The Basement below the store. I was going to say, your band is at an interesting crossroads. You can play straight up blues festivals, Bonaroo and The Americana Music Festival. You are kind of in an interesting position, don’t you think?

RP:  Yeah, we are looking that way. It’s kind of weird because sometimes people don’t know what to classify us as or where to put us, but, it has really been a blessing because we can play anywhere, you know. There are certain bands, like a punk band, they can play a punk rock club and that’s it, you know, or if you are even just a straight up Country Honky Tonk band you’re running that way. We can play everywhere, you know.  We can play a regular rock fest and blues fest and folk fest, country fest and you name it.  It is sort of funny too. A lot of people, they don’t even quite understand what kind of music it is that we play; it’s country blues, you know, that’s what it is.

TNB: I’ve got some friends out in Mississippi. I can see your sound is mostly what they would call Boogie Blues if it was coming out of Mississippi.  It’s not straight up Hill Country; it’s got a little bit of Hill Country. What do you guys think where you are coming from? What are you after?

RP: Well, I just call it Country Blues. For Hill Country, there is a certain trance aspect. It’s kind of raggedy. Old Delta stuff.  We are a little bit of that mixed up.  I have been a student of it all since I was a little kid. I sort of have my way of playing and it kind of mixes it up all together and also, a lot of times we are playing straight up blues and blues stuff, but, the difference is nobody’s writing songs anymore. They just focus on being guitar gunslingers. You know. I want to be someone who writes song from the heart. You know what I mean. That is the most important thing.

TNB: I think that is what keeps the blues alive. Have you met “Blind Boy” Paxton?

RP: No, I don’t think I know him.

TNB: He made the cover of Living Blues Magazine. He plays old time Charlie Patton style or earlier. He’s probably the best acoustic blues musician right now, but, he won’t write anything. It’s like the music was written in a certain time period and that is where it fits. You are one of the only songwriters that I can see where, it’s like you are not copying Burnside, Kimbrough.  You really are not copying anybody even though it has that aged feel. It’s your own stuff. Do you get that feeling?

photo - Scott Toepfer

photo – Scott Toepfer

RP: Here’s the deal, man. If you are not making new music then go home. Because, nobody is going to do it as good as Charlie Patton did it anyway. You know what I mean? Nobody can play Charlie Patton better than Charlie Patton.  You are not going to play Son House better than Son House. So, my songs are what I am going to play, you know, otherwise you are just kind of like a museum piece, like a throwback like someone in costume that is just showing up to play a part in a movie or something.  I think music should be from the heart. I’ve always believed that. That is why Muddy Waters was so good. That’s why John Fogerty is so good. The best music comes from a personal place.  Some people copy things and change the names, I don’t even do that. You know, for me, that’s what it’s all about. Music that’s fresh and new but maybe it sounds like it’s old, like timeless music that’s new. I guess so, if that makes sense.  It’s hard to do. Blues has been around for almost a hundred years and I’ve been playing it for you know, most of my life. It’s hard to sort of write new stuff because so much has been done, but, it’s a quest that I will be forever on; to write new songs that are timeless still. Songs that still fit in with the annals of blues going back to Charlie Patton, you know.

TNB:  It’s interesting; you do go back and do Charlie Patton covers, which is way back.

photo - Scott Toepfer

photo – Scott Toepfer

RP: He is my patron saint. I did that record, Peyton on Patton because I want people to know who he is because I feel like I have a problem with the blues world. Not enough people know who Charlie Patton is. I think if you know who Charlie Patton is then you have to start with him. I think that music in general starts to get more into focus. You start to understand where people like Muddy Waters and where I am coming from. I just want to make sure people know about Charlie Patton.  In his day, he was super famous you know. In his day, he was the guy. It’s sort of like he influenced Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. In his day, Charlie was the hero; He was the one they all wanted to be. He drove around in good cars; he played a Gibson Guitar with a hard case.  He was the one that was truly successful, you know and the music is amazing. In my opinion, he was the best there ever was.  I think the reason his playing is not that well known is because the recordings were so raw. That’s why I did that record that way. I wanted to do it his way. I kept it sort of raw. I didn’t put too much of myself into the record. Anyway, I wanted to try to use his rawness and play it the way he would play a song. I wanted to play the way he played them so people could hear his guitar pickin’.  So they could have appreciation for what he was on guitar. He was just about songs you know.

TNB: You guys have been around for about four or five albums now?

RP: Yeah, we have made five records I think.

TNB: Things are really starting to pick up the last couple of years.

RP: Yeah, it has been a slow and steady ride. I think the last records have got a lot more attention it has been exponential, especially after the Charlie Patton record. People in like the traditional blues world sort of heard that one and started saying, “maybe we should have been paying attention to these fellas.”

TNB: That is kind of how it happens sometimes. What is ground zero for you guys?

RP: Well, I don’t know. We have pockets all over the place where it’s big. The West Coast is really good:  lots of stuff there. It has kind of blown up in Cincinnati and, of course, southern Indiana, Burlington. Indianapolis; big time there. Kansas City has been a huge place.  I think for us it has always been just one fan at a time. More word of mouth than anything else. It has been fans just coming out and telling their friends and then they buy the record and they’re spinning it. A lot of barbecuing or whatever and I think has been the secret for us.

TNB: One of the most interesting things was that I saw you played a big motorcycle rally. Was that at Sturgis?

RP: We have done Sturgis a couple of times. We did a Bike fest in Arkansas. It’s no big deal. We do a Biker fest and then we will turn around and do the Vans Warped Tour. The kids on the Warped Tour are like 13 and those kids are fun to play for! They go nuts! Then we will go and play a festival at Red Rocks in Denver, Colorado. Denver is a big town for us. It might be one of the biggest. They are such a great crowd.

TNB: They do have a good acoustic scene.

RP: That’s true.

TNB: Real quick, any new albums this year or just touring what is going to happen.

RP: I’m not sure. We will be touring on the Blues Revolution Tour which has been going strong.  There are going to be festivals. We’d like to get in there and do some recording. I think it’s something I just we’ve made, kind of like, once a year for a while, so, I foresee us doing something.

TNB: Have you had any guests come up and jam on encores?

photo - Scott Toepfer

photo – Scott Toepfer

RP: Oh yeah on the Blues Revolution Tour we have been doing jams where it’s just the three of us those two guys and me then the Big Damn Band and Jimbo’s band. I think in Nashville… I don’t wanna say who…but, there is likely going to be some specials guests coming up that are Nashville locals.

TNB: When you jam, are you doing old time blues or…

RP: Yeah, we have been jamming on stuff like that and just trade it up, like, maybe one or two Jimbo songs or like some Charlie Patton stuff. Different things. It changes every night.

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com