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True Blue from Ellis Kell
Argus/Dispatch blues columnist

October 2001

In the wake and aftermath of our nation’s recent tragedy, we borrow just a few lines from Johnny Cash’s 1974 recitation, "That Ragged Old Flag"…

"And here in her own good land, She’s been abused, burned, dishonored, denied and refused. And the very government for which she stands, Has been scandalized throughout the land. And she’s getting thread bare, and she’s wearing kinda thin, But she’s in pretty good shape, for the shape she’s in. ‘Cause she’s been through the fire before, and she can take a whole lot more…"

If there’s any doubt in anyone’s mind as to the truth of these words, simply recall that recent photo image of the New York fireman raising up old glory at ‘Ground Zero’ in the heart of the World Trade Center destruction. You know, the image that so reminded us all of that historic photo of ‘Old Glory’ being raised on top of Iwo Jima in WWII. Granted, we’ve been knocked down before, but we’ve never, ever been knocked down and out for the count. Rest assured - justice, and not revenge, will prevail. I truly believe that our nation, and the entire free world, will emerge from these atrocities with a new ‘unity in diversity’ - to borrow a phrase from The House of Blues principle philosophy.

In and around these river towns…

Rachel Knight and Whatever Blues Band initiated their own special charity drive the weekend of September 22, and will be collecting for the Red Cross Relief Fund through October. True Blue kudos to Rachel and the band for their heartfelt efforts. Please support this fine local blues ‘n boogie group, and feel free to toss whatever you can spare in the jar at their next gig.

One of the QC’s favorite musical sons, guitarist Jack Seales, is coming back out with a brand new ensemble. This new jazz group, Niteflite, also features drummer extraordinaire Joel Dick and veteran bassman Jack Hendrix. No ‘weakest link’ to be found here, my friends. These three musicians are all seasoned, versatile players and will no doubt soon be in demand on the QC music scene. Watch for ‘em soon at a venue near you!

New True Blues fer Youz…

"Heavy Rotation" - Paul deLay (Evidence Music - ECD 26115) Portland’s Paul deLay brings a strong new brew of blues, on this their fourth CD for the Evidence label. With Hammond B-3 master Louis Pain, Chicago’s Peter Dammann on guitar, Dan Fincher on tenor sax, new drummer Kelly Dunn, and deLay’s monster blues harp and vocals, the tunes on these tracks are straight up, 100 proof, from the heart and soul of deLay’s life experiences. Big blues from the big man, Paul deLay. Get yourself some real soon!

"Burnside on Burnside" - R. L. Burnside (Fat Possum/Epitaph) This collection showcases the live performance of legendary bluesman R. L. Burnside, as captured at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, Oregon on January 21, 2001. Backed by grandson Cedric Burnside on drums, and Kenny Brown on lead guitar, this is real-deal North Mississippi Hill Country Blues at its finest. A must-have for the serious blues collector, and required listening for Blues 101.

"Nothing Personal" - Delbert McClinton (New West Records) Delbert took full reins on the production of this new CD, and took the opportunity to do this one his way. The result showcased the complete Delbert McClinton, his many influences, and never more soulful or passionate in his delivery. The CD’s title is a misnomer, as the lyrics in these new tunes are so very personal. Delbert co-penned the 13 new tracks with longtime friend and collaborator Gary Nicholson. This effort gave Delbert a chance to follow the music where it would go, and this new recording is proof that he knows exactly where he’s going. A fresh new batch from the incomparable Mr. Delbert McClinton. Gotta have it!

More new blues…

"Sky Like a Broken Clock" - Kelly Joe Phelps (Rykodisc) A lyrical journey filled with passion and unique perspectives. Slidemaster Phelps is joined by renowned bassist Larry Taylor and percussionist Billy Conway. David Henry is featured on cello, and Tom West contributes Hammond organ to the tracks. Very dark, but very much alive.

"Shoulda Been Home" - Robert Cray (Rykodisc) In this, his twelfth album, Robert Cray shows he is still firmly rooted in blues and soul. Joined by longtime bandmates Jim Pugh on keyboards, bassman Karl Sevareid and drummer Kevin Hayes, this collection also features saxman Andrew Love (The Memphis Horns), Ben Cauley on trumpet (Otis Redding and The Staple Singers), and Jack Hale on trombone (Shaft). The straight blues tracks on this CD bring Robert Cray back to his earliest inspirations. Welcome home.

Further on up the road…

Momma’s yellin’ out the window, "Now hurry up, son… or the biscuits ‘n gravy will soon be gone!" This should be more than plenty for you all to chew on for a while, so peace and blessings and, until we meet again at this crossroads…

Blues to ‘ya!

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