Friday, January 6, 2012
Bits and Pieces......
The annual Music issue of the Oxford American is now available. This issue is always a favorite because a CD is included with the magazine that usually features some outstanding, sometimes hard-to-find music from the region's finest musical talent. Over the past three years, the OA has used the Music issue to focus on the music from a particular southern state....the first two being Arkansas (where the magazine is published) and Alabama. The accompanying CD usually showcases lesser-known singers and groups along with somewhat obscure tracks from more familiar artists. There's nothing wrong with that because this policy opens everybody's ears to some great music that they might have missed otherwise. In addition, there are some fantastic articles related to the music by some of the finest writers.
This year's issue focuses on the music of Mississippi, so naturally there's an abundance of blues present. Peter Guralnick (currently working on a biography of Sam Phillips) has an excellent article on Howlin' Wolf and how he might have been Phillips' greatest discovery of all. There are also articles about other Mississippi natives, like a short bio of the highly underrated Guitar Slim (a Greenville native), the many career ups and downs of soul/blues legend Syl Johnson, Bo Diddley, and the troubled street musician Ted Hawkins.
There are several other articles about Mississippi blues in general, but other genres are highlighted as well, especially rockabilly and rhythm & blues. I've always been amazed at the sheer volume of musicians that were born in the Magnolia State in every genre imaginable from blues to jazz to rock to country to R&B......not just musicians, but pioneers in their respective genres.
Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials was one of the first bands I discovered when I started listening to the blues, courtesy of Alligator's The New Bluebloods collection, then their fantastic debut CD that they ended up recording while putting their song together for the Bluebloods anthology. They were also one of the first live bands I got to see back in the late 80's, and they just blew everyone away. This is from a Blues Cruise from a few years back, and as you can see, they are still a lot of fun.
Red Roots, which I highly recommend. Teenage blues guitarists seem to pop up on every corner these days, but Poxon really sounds like he's got the goods and the staying power. He writes nearly all of his own material (seemingly from his own perspective, which is refreshing) and has a highly diversified style in his writing, singing, and playing, which should appeal to blues and blues/rock fans. Plus, he sports the coolest afro since Phil Guy. Do yourself a favor and check this guy out.