Roadhouse News: Unreleased recordings by Son House to be issued after 60 years

Son House, or Edward James “Son” House Jr., was a unique figure in blues history. His highly emotional vocals and slide guitar playing combined to give him a powerful, sometimes almost otherworldly, sound.

“Forever On My Mind” will be released March 18, 2022.”

After a stint as a preacher in his early 20s, House performed and recorded from the mid-1920s to the mid-’40s, when he gave up music and moved to Rochester, N.Y. He was rediscovered in 1964 and enjoyed a revival of his career during the ongoing folk-blues years until he retired agin in 1974 for health reasons.

After he was rediscovered in 1964, he recorded what would become his seminal album, “The Legendary Son House: Father of Folk Blues,” in 1965 on Columbia Records.

But, as it turns out, he was recorded earlier, at a November 1964, performance at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind., by Dick Waterman. who has had tapes of that show stashed away for the past 60 years. Waterman was one of three blues fans who tracked House to his Rochester home and then helped to revive his career.

Now, material from the Wabash concert will be released next March by Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound record label.

The recordings come from a Nov. 23, 1964 performance Son House gave at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana; five months later, the blues legend cut his seminal 1965 Columbia Records album, The Legendary Son House: Father of Folk Blues, which introduced him to a new, wider audience.

The album contains new versions of seven songs House later recorded for Columbia — including a new rendition of “Preachin’ Blues.” The title track, however had never been recorded, and was played at his live performances.

Here’s a Rolling Stone article about the new album.

A video of “Preachin’ Blues,” from the upcoming album:

A fond memory of bluesman Eddie Kirkland

A few days ago I was browsing through some old blues photos I had taken over the years, and found one that was full of bittersweet memories.

Eddie Kirkland (Jim White photo)

In February of 2011, I was wintering in Pinellas Park, Florida, in the Tampa Bay area. Friends were visiting, and we were looking around for a Saturday night out that might satisfy all of our tastes. We found that at the Dunedin Brewery, in the nearby town of Dunedin, where they were holding a Stogies and Stout night, offering cigars, a variety of stout ales, and the blues of Eddie Kirkland. We couldn’t have done better.

I had heard some of his music, but never seen him perform. After all, the Jamaican-born bluesman had been around for decades, touring with John Lee Hooker from 1949 to 1962, and then enjoying a long and productive solo career.

So, between stogies and stout (quaffed outdoors, due to the stogies), I visited the main room, where Kirkland was holding forth, enjoyed his music, and took a few pictures, including the one above. He was lively and cooking, despite his 87 years, and obviously enjoying himself.

I think it was the following Monday that I ran across a news item that said Kirkland had been killed in a car accident Sunday morning, Feb. 27, 2011, while driving back to his home in Macon, Ga.

I realized that I had seen his last show, had taken a photo of him, and had the chance to wish him well and tell him how much I enjoyed his music.

Here’s a video of a Kirkland concert in Belgium in 2008, when he would have been 84.

Roadhouse Album Review: Mississippi MacDonald digs deep into his soul with “Do Right, Say Right”

Mississippi MacDonald“Do Right, Say Right” (Another Planet Music Ltd.)

Every once in a while, a new album (and an artist that I’m hearing for the first time) comes along and nourishes the hole in my soul that can only be filled with a tasty, satisfying musical meal.

This time it’s a sharply cut gem of an album from England’s three-time British Blues Award nominee Oliver “Mississippi” MacDonald, titled “Do Right, Say Right.” He does both, extremely well. (The “Mississippi” handle came from schoolmates, because he was the only kid they knew who had been to America. It stuck.)

It’s filled with gritty, soulful vocals backed with fiercely melodic guitar runs, juiced in just the right places with kick-ass horns. It’s also filled with eight finely tuned original songs that sound as if they’ve been dredged from a primeval soul swamp, plus one very classic cover.

MacDonald’s backers are a razor-sharp unit, with producer Phil Dearing on keyboards and guitar, Elliot Boughen on bass, Mark Johnson-Brown on drums, and Lucy Dearing adding backup vocals. They all come together to create a sound that’s faithful to its deep soul/blues roots, but also channeled through MacDonald’s musical sense of the life he wants his own music to live.

“It’s modern, it’s not musical archaeology,” MacDonald says. “It celebrates a fantastic tradition. It’s soul-blues, and you’ve got to put your best into it.” In order to touch that tradition, MacDonald has been to Al Green’s church and heard him preach. He’s been to Willie Mitchell’s Royal Studios in Memphis, where the great records on the Hi Label were recorded. He’s met B.B. King and Pinetop Perkins, Otis Clay, and Sam Moore. Big Joe Turner told him to listen to Albert King.

Out of all that, and much more, obviously, came MacDonald’s authentic feeling for the music that he delivers here with such skill, power and passion. There’s not a false note on this terrific, heart-felt effort; in fact, it’s just the opposite: every note rings true to the soulful spirit MacDonald is invoking.

The tough-enough opening track, “I Was Wrong,” is one of my favorites, with horns adding the proper soulful subtext to this lover’s lament. As with all of his original tracks here, MacDonald avoids lyrical and musical cliches; he sings and plays with a fierce authenticity.

Some of the other songs that stood out for me include “I Heard It Twice,” “It Can’t Hurt Me,” “Drinker’s Blues,” the low-down, piano-first blues “If You Want A Good Cup Of Coffee,” and the album’s only cover, “Your Wife Is Cheating On Us,” a torchy reading of the Little Milton version of the slyly salacious Denise LaSalle chestnut, “Your Husband Is Cheating On Us.” The rest are all equal evidence of this fine talent.

But my absolute favorite track, driven by its lyrical intensity and soaring guitar, is “Let Me Explore Your Mind,” a masterful six-and-a-half minutes of soulful pleading for meaningful human connection. It’s a beautiful, powerfully crafted piece of music-making.

What more can I say? This is an excellent album. Enjoy it soon and often.

Here’s the very, very fine first track on the album, “I Was Wrong.”

1 – I Was Wrong
2 – I Heard It Twice
3 – It Can’t Hurt Me
4 – Drinker’s Blues
5 – Let Me Explore Your Mind
6 – That’s It I Quit
7 – If You Want a Good Cup of Coffee
8 – Keep Your Hand out of My Pocket
9 – Your Wife Is Cheating on Us