Wednesday, July 21, 2010

dwelling in the slim recesses of lightning and bad luck

Lightnin' Slim, "Hoodoo Blues."

Lightnin' Slim, The Best of Lightnin' Slim

R. L. Burnside, Wish I was in Heaven Sitting Down

Musically, I'm a digital non-apologist but, for real, I love videos of people playing records. Little else in the digital now bespeaks the love of a subject as succinctly. My buddy Clarke and his Facebook put me in this OG Baton Rouge blues direction this morning. There's no video for it that I can find, but you should check out Slim's version of "Bad Luck and Trouble", different from that made famous by that other Lightnin' cat from Houston.

Lightnin' Slim, "Bad Luck and Trouble"

As one invested in the blues of this area and how it is played, a large, vocal part of me asks in apparent futility: where are the dudes doing this spare Lightnin' Slim and Slim Harpo stuff? That stuff is ours; we should do something with it.

Slim Harpo, "Baby, Scratch My Back"

But then, dwelling in the slim recesses of lightning and bad luck will eventually bring one to the souped-up, cashed-in, problematic, post-authentic blues of the latter part of the late Mississippi bluesman R.L. Burnside's career. One is tempted to declare this mishmash heresy, and maybe it is, but last I checked, the blues was never exactly a bastion for the sacrosanct. Thing is, it works, which is the point. This stuff manages to be then and now at the same time, which is how you keep a tradition truthfully alive. I'm not saying you have to go all Dr. Dre Lite on every blues track but that is one way to do it. So however you are going to do it, do it already.

R. L. Burnside, "Bad Luck City"

Speaking of here and blues and apostrophized names and alive, here is some footage I shot of Baton Rouge bluesman and former Howlin' Wolf (and everybody else) sideman Henry Gray at the Richard Sale Barn in Abbeville, doing "Little Red Rooster," a song written by Willie Dixon which Gray and Wolf recorded in 1961, on the subjective list of those that helped form this thing called rock 'n' roll, which in turn created everything.

Henry Gray & the Cats, "Little Red Rooster"

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