BIG WALKER - Root Walking: American Blues & Roots MP3/Flac

Styles: Modern Electric & Acoustic Blues, Harmonica Blues
Recorded: 2011
Released: 2012
File: mp3 @ 320 kbps
Size: 108.05 MB
Time: 46:04
Art: Front+Back

1. It's Hard - 3:30
2. Raise A Ruckus - 2:31
3. Wild Black Bill - 3:26
4. Run Nigri Run - 3:49
5. The Hypocrite Blues - 2:05
6. Can't Take No Train - 4:03
7. Midnight Special - 4:31
8. You Got A Home In That Rock - 3:09
9. Papa Guede - 2:43
10. Devil's Cloth - 2:56
11. Thirteenth Full Moon - 3:55
12. Slave - 9:21

Personnel: Derrick 'Big' WALKER - Harmonica, Saxophones, Lead Vocals
Steve Klasson, Maxie Dread - Guitars ( Electric & Acoustic & Slide), Mandolin
Slim Notoni - Piano
Surjo Benigh - Bass
James Bradley Jr., Fredrik Hellberg - Drums
Calle Drugge, Bai Jack - Percussion's

Note: Singer, harmonica player and saxman Derrick “Big” Walker toured Britain some years back and was well-received. Born in Oklahoma in 1953, he worked with the likes of Big Mama Thornton, Percy Mayfield, Lowell Fulson and Mike Bloomfield on the west coast, and has played with numerous people since he moved to Europe in the 80s; he is now based in Scandinavia and often works with Eric Bibb. For this CD, he plays mostly harp - though there is some blasting sax too, in which he was tutored by Bobby Forte, ex-BB King - and the idea behind just under half of the numbers on this CD is that he takes old African-American poems and putsthem to music. If that sounds over-intellectual, the result is anything but... He told me, “The rappers and hip-hoppers might be surprised to find how much they have incommon with the poets and musicians of the past four centuries.”
There is a down-home blues feel to many tracks but also a strong sense of both originality and continuity. Walker opens with a Chicago flavoured original number and follows it with the first example of the “poetry” numbers, ‘Raise A Ruckus’, a little more developed than other versions you might have heard – and definitely not an over-reverent performance. Derrick dates ‘Wild Black Bill’ to the 1700s (!), but his treatment – both vocally and musically - is definitely in a Muddy Waters bragging vein, and the song has some words that relate to ‘The Dozens’. ‘Run Nigri Run’ is of course slave era – some take it to refer to Nat Turner’s slave revolt of 1832 –and ‘The Hypocrite Blues’ is also dated to the 1800s (though not under that title, I would guess). It is a pity Derrick does not give any sources for these in the otherwise excellent booklet, though he does state that he heard at least some of them as a child. These are nicely – though maybe “nicely” is not the right word –juxtaposed with Walker’s own autobiographical ‘Can’t Take No Train’. ‘Midnight Special’ is given a bluesy, jaunty, sing-along treatment and this mood continues on the spiritual ‘You Got A Home In That Rock’, interestingly leading into another original, ‘Papa Guede’, a New Orleans-ish sounding homage to the “good”counterpart of Baron Samedi in Haitian voodoo. ‘Devil’s Cloth’ mixes folk, gospel and pop, and ‘Thirteenth Full Moon’, a tough, slightly spooky, contemporary sounding blues in honour of Derrick’s former guitarist Olle Boson who died in 2009, also hints at another folk tradition. ‘Slave’ is a thoughtful, moody piece that ostensibly closes the set, but there is a hidden bonus number, probably entitled ‘She Hoodooed Me’, with Derrick’s exaggerated vocal sounding very much like Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, his sax lowdown and dirty, the backing rocking, and just about every hoodoo reference you can think of included in the lyrics.
Derrick's harmonica playing is excellent throughout; his relaxed singing is even better. The backing is by local musicians – including Per “Stockholm Slim” Notini, of Magic Sam fame – and other ex-pats such as backing singer Derek January from Detroit. The results are contentious, intriguing, fun, Afro-centric, and always listenable, making for an interesting and slightly different CD from the norm that is worth checking out. - by Norman Darwen.

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