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True Blue
from Ellis Kell
Argus/Dispatch blues columnist

March 2007

TRUE BLUE from Ellis Kell

Watermelon Slim & The Workers new CD "The Wheel Man," on the Canadian NorthernBlues label, is a fresh take on an earthy and soulful roots sound. Bill Homans, a.k.a. Watermelon Slim, is a Vietnam veteran. He is also the only Vietnam vet to have recorded a full length album during the war. The new CD features guests Magic Slim and Dave Maxwell. These tracks just sizzle, and Slim's seasoned vocals are the real deal. Favorite tracks off this new disk include the title cut "Wheel Man," "Newspaper Reporter," and "Sawmill Holler." There's no weak links in this chain of true blue tunes. After a stint as an industrial waste hauler, Slim returned to the music he loves, and hit the highway with his band in tow. His debut on NorthernBlues, "Watermelon Slim & The Workers," received six Blues Music Award nominations, Mojo Magazine's 'Best Blues Album of the Year', among other awards. Legendary Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler says "Watermelon Slim incarnates the deepest and truest roots of American music," and delares Slim "a one-of-a-kind pickin' 'n' singin' Okie dynamo." We second those emotions. We're also thrilled to tell you that none other than Watermelon Slim himself will be featured on Sat., June 30 at 8:30 pm, on the tent stage, at this year's IH Mississippi Valley Blues Festival! (Note: This CD is due for release and distribution on April 17, 2007.)

"Slide to Freedom" from Doug Cox & Salil Bhatt, also on the NorthernBlues label, blazes a new blue trail with the fusion of Indian and blues music. This unique new collection combines instrumention of the 19-stringed mohan veena (V.M. Bhatt), tabla (Ramkumar Mishra), the 20-stringed Satvik veena (Salil Bhatt), and blues slide guitar (Doug Cox). The pairing of blues, rock and Indian music has been experimented with many times before, as with the Beatles and Rolling Stones use of Indian instrumentation and tonalities in their music. However, this new collection from Doug Cox & Salil Bhatt is a very unique blend of the sponaneity of the blues and the intricacy of Indian phrasings and tonality. The shared drone tones (also common to Celtic music) serve to deepen the mystical quality inherent in the blues already. The combination is an interesting mix of new world blues for the soul.

(For more information on all Canadian releases from the NorthernBlues label, visit www.northernblues.com on the web.)

"Summertime," Jono Manson (Independent Release) If you saw the Kevin Costner film "The Postman," you may remember the tattered folk rock ensemble featured in that film. Jono Manson was the rag-tag front man on guitar, and also composed some of the music for the film. It has been too long since we've heard from Jono here at True Blue, but his newest independent release, "Summertime" let us know that he sure hasn't been idle since we saw him last. The truth is no moss will ever grow on this rolling stone, as he jumps back and forth across the big pond between US and European tours. With a devoted following in Italy, Jono continues to draw new fans to the fold wherever his travels take him. The new release features Jono's signature blend of folk, rock, blues and soul, with infectious grooves of "Jr. Walker Drove the Bus" and "Please Stop Playing That Didgeridoo," culminating in the almost hypnotic strains of the closer "Summertime's Almost Over". Jono Manson continues to deliver his own road-tested and proven brand of soulful roots music in this new collection. We hope to see Jono come our way soon for a live date!

(For more information on ordering Jono Manson music, tour dates and other updates, visit www.jonomanson.net . )

I can hear my mama cryin', and I can smell some chicken fryin'... and I can't make up my mind which way to run. You'll just have to get your own heapin' helpin' of these new true blue tracks. I guarantee it will do your soul good. Peace, love and blessings to all and, until we meet again at this crossroads...

Blues to 'ya!

Local musician Ellis Kell writes about blues music both local and national in .True Blue., running the first Sunday of each month in Entertainment. He also serves as a consultant for River Music Experience, a not-for-profit center dedicated to preservation, education and celebration of American Roots music.

Local musician Ellis Kell writes about blues music both local and national in ‘True Blue’, running the first Sunday of each month in Entertainment. He also serves as a consultant for River Music Experience, a not-for-profit center dedicated to preservation, education and celebration of American Roots music.



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