Everything’s Gonna Be Alright
Paul Thorn live @ Pitcher
Words & photos: Vincent Abbate
So much truth. Soooo much truth.
If you leave a show with that phrase resonating in your head, you know something very good has just gone down.
Turnout for this club show on a drizzly Wednesday night in Germany was light – surely nothing any musician or concert promoter wants. Yet as far as vibe goes, the people attending the performance by Tupelo, Mississippi’s Paul Thorn were perfect, making the event more of a homey gathering of friends than some “us” versus “them” spectacle. Over the course of a glorious set that spanned roughly two decades of material, Thorn managed to make a personal connection with just about every one of the few dozen individuals in the room.
Terry Evans –
“I’ll Be Your Shelter (In The Time Of Storm)”
Terry Evans, who passed away on January 20th at the age of 80, had one of those phone book voices. You know: Open to any page in the phone book, hand it to Terry, have him sing it and wait for the goose bumps to come.
He was almost 70 years old when we spoke in 2005, coinciding with the release of his Fire In The Feeling album. At the time, he felt the voice he considered to be God-given growing gradually weaker.
“It’s not as strong now as it was 20 years ago,” said the man who’s first success came in the 1960s, backing singer Jewel Akens as a member of The Turnarounds. “Through experience, I know how to use my voice. But there are notes I can’t hit anymore that I used to hit effortlessly. Now it’s an effort.”
John Lee Hooker – “Tupelo Blues”
The dreary wet weather this morning has me thinking about rain songs. “Backwater Blues.” “Didn’t It Rain.” “When The Levee Breaks.” Flood songs.
There have been more than a few in the blues. The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, which took the lives of 246 people in seven states, is said to have inspired “When The Levee Breaks,” recorded by Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe two years later. It may also have provided the backdrop for John Lee Hooker’s “Tupelo Blues.” Hooker would have been about 10 years old at the time. Old enough to remember. Some sources say he was recalling another catastrophic Mississippi flood in 1936.
Still Fierce and Free
An Interview with Watermelon Slim (Pt. 2)
Words by Vincent Abbate / Photos by Mike Latschislaw
(Click here for Part 1 of the interview.)
“Is any part of what you’re telling me off the record?”
I really had to ask, because Watermelon Slim wasn’t using a filter. He was sharing the most intimate details of his life – stuff you might tell your closest friend in confidence – though I’d never spoken with him before apart from a brief exchange at a blues festival ten years prior.
No. Every word of our interview was fit for print as far as Slim was concerned. When you have given up all hope of commercial success and accepted physical decline as a fact of life, you stop holding back.
“I’m an old man. I’m not in the greatest of health. I dance around it and put on a pretty good front, but…”