Rick Saunders has been listening to, writing, following and researching Deep Blues with a prolific passion. With this lengthy cast, he had something to say about the artists.
“I don’t just make a song and say ‘It is good.’ Just like I sing a lyric this time, well, next time I sing I may put another one in there. If you don’t never change nothin’ how do you know how good it’s gonna ever be? You got to change it. Suppose everybody just did the same thing all the time and never did nothing different. You never could bring out nothing new. You got to give people a chance.” – Cedell Davis
How two young men from the mountains of Colorado came to play garage grunge infested dirt haulin’ hill country punkass blues is beyond us but we are mighty glad they did. Prepare to shake your money maker til it breaks if it ain’t already broke.
Northern Italy’s Black Smokers hunch a hard fierce boogie without a hint of the telltale euroness one comes to expect from European bands working distinctly American music styles. This tight two piece throws down ZZ Topish/White Stripesian Italian lovin’ and Mississippi fightin’ blues. Gratzie!
Some might call one man band Blues Boy Jag some kind of krazy deep blues business man what with his moonlighting on himself with his Roky Erickson and Zappa cover bands. Not to mention (‘tho we will) the incredibly gorgeous and vast array of Cigar Box Guitar, Bass, Banjo, and amps he homemakes. He’s sold over five hundred and will have a fresh quiver of CBGs to sell at The Deep Blues Festival. Then there is his seventy-nine song four CD box set of old blues. rockabilly, and jug songs. One thing for sure: Jag is on the stick and that stick has four strings and he can play hell out of all of ‘em.
Like Mississippi Fred McDowell saying “I Do not play no rock and roll” Chris Cotton says “I do not play no blues.” Got a problem with that? Tell it to Cotton’s hero Mr. Blind Willie McTell. He and Cotton will take you to school. Mr. Cotton will be returning as a third time charmer to DBF hot on the strength of his amazing new release The Big Sea.
Beware! Cicada Omega brings that dirty Kentucky hill holler boogie to DBF by way of their adopted town of Portland, Oregon. Fully strapped with banjos, suitcase bass, guitars, drums and car parts percussion, and snake calling voices shoutin’ hard to their heavens and earth, both, to call up Dock Boggs, John Lee, The Wolf, Ali Farka, Funkadelic, R.L. and Junior. Wanna bet they can do it?
Devin Miller ain’t nothing but trouble. He’s a hellraisin’, honkytonkin’, ‘stone lovin’, guitar slangin’, singin’ songwritin’ babyfaced grandson of a pig farmer. Twenty-five percent equal parts Jerry Lee (Mr. Miller worked as Mr. Lewis’ Official Photographer for many years), Keith, R.L., Hank, Elvis, Carl, Johnny, and Jack. That adds up to two hundred percent all American badass. Just like The Deep Blues Festival.
Seattle’s GravelRoad is working triple duty again on their way to The DBF ‘09. They’ll be the back-up band and chauffeurs for the notorious and beloved Greenville Mississippi legend Mr. T-Model Ford as well doing their own set of west coast hill country blues in support of their second album Shot The Devil. We can only pray they arrive in one piece!
LUTHER THE DEViL
As they openly state on MySpace Luther The Devil sounds like “Some kind of bad ass mushmouth blues.” And they ain’t kiddin’ neither. Luther the Devil is a hard swangin’ sooper rockin’, tighter than yr mama’s pocket. A punkblues force of nature. Every band scheduled to follow them has been put on notice. They’d better bring their best game and watch their backs. LTD stands to stomp some boogie on all y’all.
Pearlene brings a brilliant well crafted and powerful Midwest Black Crowsian-style shambling boogie crossed with Seattle-ite insouciance plus twice the swagger and seven times the sexy. A major highlight of DBF ’08!
SiLVER LiON’S 20/20
Noted Auburn University economist/guitarist/howler Cheetah Weise and honored combat veteran/drummer Sweet Dawg Pickering are both x-members of seminal punkblues outfit Immortal Lee County Killers and have done time in the service of Mr. T-Model Ford and the late Mr. Paul “Wine” Jones (and you may thank them personally for hooking us up with Elmo Williams, Hezekiah Earl and Robert Cage!). So it comes as no surprise they beat down blues hotter than a Harry Crews hog boil.
Eric Bling hails from Bordeax, France. His music has that depth, mystery, and sexyness that we are always on the hunt for. Eric uses samplers and other technology to get to the soul of his blues. His vision of the blues combines the past and future and brings it into the present where it lives and breathes on as blues just as vital as it’s original form.
BLACK RiVER BLUESMAN
Jukka “Black River Bluesman” Juholla and his Cockroach Combo destroyed
the woods and mountains around their tiny hometown of Mustio Finland by carving their guitars, drums, and harmonicas from whole ironwood trees with their bare hands and using John Henry’s twelve pound hammer (with four foot handle) they beat those mountains down for the brass , silver , and iron (and coal to fire this thing) to fashion the rest of the parts they needed. When they were finished they stomped their thirst with a bottle of R.L. Burnside’s Bloody Mthrfckr and sat down in the full moon light at that muddy crossroads between Holly Springs Mississippi , Mustio and County Kisko to play Their raw dirty beautiful Blues.
Some folks say that Chad Nordhoff is “The Real Deal”. We have no idea what that really means. Unless it means that what you play is what you are without a bunch of pretentious B.S. about being a “blues man” or some such. Bloomington (home of Johnny Cougarmelon) Indiana born and now Memphis living Nordhoff is one of those rare musicians that can play a music that some might describe as country or country blues or blues or whathaveyou but in the end and in reality is just that honest american sound of playing songs that you know and genre tags be damned.
London’s HONKEYFiNGER slayed people at Deep Blues ‘08. The power of his one –man humongo sound…his ass kicking sqwonk and head bangin’ boogietude set off the tornado sirens and brought a fifteen minute deluge. Let’s pray for a repeat.
Rome New York’s wolf man hails from the Mowhawk Nation. Jimmy Wolf’s guitar tone is as tight and tough as his vocals, his band , and his songs. Scarred and marked by Hound Dog Taylor at an early age he grew to love the north Mississippi masters like Kimbrough, Burnside , and Ford among others whose emphasis is more on full vibe than on some wanky over-used abundance of manual dexterity. Jimmy Wolf’s thing is Super Live Full House Rockin’ Back Alley Scrappin’ dirty lovin’ blues and more.
Johnny Lowebow is the nom de rawk of internationally renowned Memphis luthier John Lowe. Johnny has become infamous for his construction of various one, two, three, and four string Lowebow guitars. His performance at the 2007 Deep Blues Festival was notorious with mind-bending feedback attacks and backup by Washboard Jackson. Mr. Lowe rocked in obscurity for several years with various punk outfits in the Memphis area before developing his Lowebow. Soft spoken, well-read and whip-smart his personality is, like most artists, the antitheses of the wild primitive behemoth he appears to be on stage. He is the only man we personally know who can play guitar and snare drum with the very same hand.
Mark “Porkchop” HOLDER
Mark Holder is a big man. In all ways. Big in size,skills,heart,soul and kindness. Can a man called Porkchop be anything but a sweet dude? Naw. But wait ’til y’all hear him play. You might think him mean. Porkchop is one of those guys that when you think of somebody playin’ the real non-bullsht blues the sound you hope to hear in yr filthy little ears is his. As Mark states “The blues is a religion. You can hear it and feel just like you feel in church. Your head will bow, your eyes will close, hair will stand up on your arm. I can play it. I can make you feel it. I can. I was born in the country and raised up in town. I’m natural born able to shake’em on down.” It ain’t braggin’ if you can back it up buddy. Mark “Porkchop” Holder can sure as hell back it up. Without mirrors. You won’t be able to miss Porkchop at DBF ’09. He’ll be the one carvin’ his initials in yr coffin lid.
REV. K.M. WiLLiAMS
“After receiving christian conversion in 1980, suddenly received ability to play & compose blues & spirituals on guitar & harmonica” His boogie is raw, real, and sanctified. What else you wanna know?
With hands like brickbats and a smile like Lucifer (who was once called the cutest boy in heaven), T-Model Ford will tell you he’s the boss of the blues. His blues “pedigree” verges on the stereotypical but, in fact it is real, raw and true: Don’t even ask to see his chain gang shackle scars (just believe us that they are there) and Watch out boys- he Will steal your girlfriend. Never doubt T-Model Ford. And do not cross him. Four brilliant albums for Fat Possum Records and a new 10″ vinyl Ep plus a plus a new full length album out on upstart Mudpuppy Records titled Jack Daniel Time oughta be enough for any other nonagenarian. But T-Model Ford ain’t no other. To quote Mr. Ford: “T-Model Ford is gonna remember you sorry fuckers how it’s done!.”
Mr. Brown, at the age of ten, learned guitar from his neighbor Mr Mississippi Joe Callicott. He was also schooled by other neighbors Mississippi Fred McDowell and Harmonica ace Johnny Woods. He is best known as the white son of R.L. Burnside, who Mr. Brown played with for twenty-six years. Mr. Brown resides in Potts Camp Mississippi where he hosts his annual North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic.
THE HiGH PLANE DRiFTERS
ok…lets get this straight up and send this out as a warning to every penny-ante-two-bit two-man band out there…It’s Go Time. All y’all need to go out and get yrselves suspenders to wear with yr belts and start walkin’ backwards and then just go ahead and get yr ass a bass player. If not I guarantee you suckers that
The High Plane Drifters and those savvy enuff to dig them will be hunting the rest of you with dogs by 2010. Mark my words.
High Plane Drifters are Kings of the two-man universe. a stoogian wrayesque sonic powernuthouse guitar vs swangin’ slayerific rumpus pounding beatdown drum ackackackshun .
Mississippi Gabe Carter
At twenty-six Chicago’s Mississippi Gabe Carter packs a fully strapped gang of flavour for a cat rockin’ it solo. Heavily influenced by the raw-boned hard lonesome Bentonia Mississippi sound of Jack Owens as well as Juke Joint proprietor (and Broke and Hungry recording artist) Jimmy Duck Holmes and the legendary Skip James. Carter deftly picks like the masters of that unique southern delta area but his sound is also infused with the dark trancy reverb drenched vibe of North Mississippi. Mississippi Gabe Carter brings it with a depth of insight, understanding, and skills uncommon in blues music today.
Switzerland. Dear sweet peace loving home to Shania Twain Switzerland. It’s my bet that Switzerland’s trash-blues-sqrawk messiah Reverend Beatman knows better than most the truth behind the lines of the Bukowski poem that reads “there is enough treachery, hatred violence absurdity in the average human being to supply any given army on any given day “. The good Reverend Beatman has made a lovely career for himself courtesy of his record label Voodoo Rhythm Records by destroying all things sacred be they monsters , cows or Rock and Roll. You’re next.
Two dudes from Sweden in lil’ suits and white face. Each sit behind humungo bass drums, near as big as the men themselves, stomstompstomping. One pimp slaps the doghouse bass, the other tears holy hell out of a variety of electrical guitars. Between them stands A.S.E.T, the Analogue Sound Expanding Trunk which appears to be a Leslie organ Cabinet with your grandma’s old victrola horns stabbed into it. What does it all mean? It means they rock that mess Swedish style, baby!
More Swedes! YES! Dubplate Connection are a bunch of ex-punks (‘tho we both know nobody is ever an ex-punk) that rock the dirty blues with a steel toed heaviness and a raging sexy swangin’ swagger. Like playing the first Nugent record and ZZ TOP’s Tres Hombres at the same time. Serious. Very serious.
ELMO WiLLiAMS and HEZEKiAH EARLY
Hailing from Natchez Mississippi, just down the river a piece from T-Model Ford, Elmo and Hez raise more racket, ruckus and dirt than men half their age have a right, let alone the skills, to do. Hezekiah romps the traps and blows the harp at the same time Elmo sings as his guitar deconstructs blues history to it’s essence.