Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue #21
Once again, dear readers, it's time for Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, and Something Blue.......our 21st edition. This has been one of our favorite themes over the years, dating back to FBF's early days as a weekly email to co-workers. For those unfamiliar with the format, we offer a song from the early days of the blues (Something Old), a song from a recent blues artist (Something New), a blues artist covering a rock song or vice versa (Something Borrowed), and finally, someone who epitomizes the blues.....usually a legendary artist (Something Blue). Pretty simple format that can be worked in a lot of different ways. Here we go......
A couple of times on previous editions of Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, we've taken variations of a familiar blues song. We're going to do that this time with the North Mississippi hill country blues classic "See My Jumper Hanging On The Line." Most blues fans have heard it before from the late R.L. Burnside, but they may not know what the phrase means. Supposedly, in blues lore, if a married woman hung her housecoat, or "jumper," on the clothesline, it was a signal to her lover that the coast was clear, so to speak. The song was one of Burnside's most recorded songs, and certainly one that his fans loved to hear him perform. It was the first Burnside song I ever heard, on the soundtrack to Deep Blues in 1992. For the Something Old portion of today's post, here's the great Mr. Burnside performing this tune sometime in 1978, filmed as part of a documentary by Alan Lomax. I realize that for some, like me, 1978 is not OLD, but it's old enough for today's purpose.
For Something New, check out this rendition of "Jumper" from Muddy Gurdy, the recent collaboration by the French trio Hypnotic Wheels and a host of the current cream of the North Mississippi hill country crop.......Cedric Burnside, Sharde' Thomas, Cameron Kimbrough, and Pat Thomas. The interesting thing about this collaboration is the inclusion of the Hurdy-Gurdy into the mix. The Hurdy-Gurdy is a traditional French instrument, operated by a hand crank, and has a most interesting sound, sort of a combination of an accordion and a fiddle. This sound works really well with this album, which is a set of mostly older tunes made popular by various hill country artists and one of them was "Jumper On The Line," of course. Cedric Burnside, R.L.'s grandson, takes the mic for this rendition.
For Something Borrowed, here's the Kansas roots rockers Moreland and Arbuckle's version, first heard on their 1861 album in 2008. This trio (guitarist Aaron Moreland, vocalist/harmonicist Dustin Arbuckle, and drummer Kendall Newby) has recorded for several labels, Northernblues Music, Telarc, and most recently Alligator, but their 1861 album is my favorite because it has their smoking version of "Jumper On The Line." If you've not heard these guys, you certainly need to. They're the real deal. This live recording was taken in early 2009, not long after 1861 was released, as part of a broadcast on Wichita Public Television.
For Something Blue, here's another look at Burnside performing this tune......this time with his band, The Sound Machine from recordings he made in the late 70's/early 80's for Dr. David Evans (later released as Sound Machine Groove). These were Burnside's first recordings with his band (made up of family members) and also his first electric recordings. If you've never heard these recordings, you need to check them out because these are some of his best and they really have a funkier edge than most of Burnside's recordings. This is probably my favorite version of "Jumper On The Line," and just one of the great songs on this set, which is worth seeking out, as are all of Dr. Evans' series of recordings from that time period.