Saturday, May 16, 2020


Still haven't been motivated enough to generate much in the way of writing. The Muse sort of left the barn, so I'm just kind of using the old blog here just to get some sort of juices going. I mentioned that last time out and have not progressed very well on that count. Not that I expect much in the way of anyone showing some sort of interest in the direction my brain flows.

Oh, let's see. This Corona Pandemic thing has been hanging us up for a coupla months now. Governor Abbott of our great state of Texas has been declaring what can and cannot reopen and what we should or should not do. Restaurants, barber shops, nail salons have all been open a couple of weeks with capacity restrictions. Pretty sure he's upping those limits on Monday May 18th and also allowing gyms and such to join the businesses allowed to open, of course with restrictions. Don't know if he's ready to open the bar business yet, so I'm still not sure when it'll be possible to get back to gigging and listening to live music. Might weird times.

Been doing a lot of homesteading at the wife's direction. My daughter came out on Mother's Day with a load of dirt. Yeah, dirt for Mother's Day. They know what the other wants. So son-in-law, daughter and grandkids spread dirt around the place. The plus was getting to see the three grandkids (at some point we'll get to see the two in New Orleans). This week the wife and I planted a ton of caladium bulbs that'll brighten things up down the road. We put up four quarts of  pickles yesterday and have plans for more later this next week. Rain last night and earlier in the week helped matters along those lines.

I was invited to a picking circle last week by Jill Evans. Been knowing Jill for a long time. She's a premier Spoons musician and can tap out a rhythm to most any genre of music. She began hosting the circle a bit before the virus reared its contagious head at a place here called Pioneer, which is part church, part bbq joint, part bar and was in the business category allowed to re-open the first round. As much as I'm itching to get back at it, I wasn't quite ready to dip my toes back into the fray just yet. Soon, though, soon.

We were booked to play Nathan's BBQ on May 29th before it all hit the fan. They shut down for a couple of weeks, but are back to doing take-out meals with plans to open the dining room soon. Maybe they'll resume live music by then and maybe they'll resume with Rob Moorman and Company providing the tunes. If we still have to wear masks, I'm going have be really creative making that work with a harmonica in my mouth.

Might as well reveal what I've been up to musically since the last blog post and add to the excitement on display here. Lots of blues. I'm still breaking out the old harp to keep the old chops sharp. Old seems to be a dominant adjective these days. Ran through about 25 Jimmy Reed tunes yesterday and I've been listening to Darrell Nulisch's The Bigtone Sessions Vol. 1. Nulisch has always been one of my favorite vocalist, especially when he jumps onto Old School blues and sings it with such deep conviction that rivals the originals. He's also a fantastic harp player, but doesn't stick it in his mouth often enough for a harp nerd like me, but when he does do the do it's tasty and toneful, even if it's acoustic and not the greasy amplified stuff I prefer. I put him, Curtis Salgado, Tad Robinson and John Nemeth in the same bag as far as unparalleled singers.  They all swing from soul blues/rhythm and blues to down in the alley straight to the heart blues. The latter is my cup of tea and Nulisch doesn't disappoint on this outing. The production here comes from Big Jon Atkinson's Bigtone Records and has been released by Charlie Lange's Bluebeat Music Label. Big Jon's a throw back to the old style of recording analog live to tape and his tasty guitar work reflects the way things were. Atkinson has been one of those 'go to' musicians in the studio, his own and others recently much in the same vein as Kid Andersen has been at Greaseland. Big Jon can nail a great harp tone of his own to the wall. Of course I've mentioned Charlie Lange's Blue Beat Music website and THE bestest place to find any blues recording one could possibly need.

Getting carried away here, but who cares? No one's reading this any longer anyway. Once I found Nulisch's disc, Big Boy Boogie California Sessions Vol 1 on the Blue Beat site, a CD by Peter Nande caught my eye. It was recorded back in 2006 at Nathan James' House and produced along with James Harman. Those names alone are enough to peak my interest. I had heard some of Nande's harp work in the past, but had never listened to an album by him. I've heard enough cats from overseas play the blues the way it's supposed to be played (according to my taste), but it always surprises me how well Scandinavians like Peter Nande get it done with blues harp and vocals. He's definitely the triple threat musical athlete having written or co-written a thirteen song disc of solid blues while blowing the reeds out of his harmonica and singing with authority. Nande is a professed James Harman fan guy and the humor in his lyrics and vocal inflection reflect such. Harman's name on the production made me curious enough to add it to the Nulisch order. His acoustic harp tunes outweigh his amped ones, but his tone on both are stellar...and he didn't check with me for my preference, so I'll let it go. And it doesn't hurt that one of my favorite all time guitar slingers, Junior Watson, plays on a few of the cuts, not that I don't love Nathan James excellent fret work along with Ronni Busack-Boysen. Harman does throw down vocals on a co-written Kiss Me Now. Good stuff all the way around on this release and I'll check out this fellow more down the road.

I have been working more on tongue blocking better (harp stuff for any harp people, who for whatever reason are still reading) just to add to my tonal palette. I mainly U-Block (curled tongue method) because that's how I learned, but have alway TBd to achieve octave notes and do a bit of tongue slapping. Ordered some new backing jam tracks for Shoji Naito's website and worked out on them. He's offering them free now, but I couldn't help but donate to a musician who has lost gigging money. They are excellent practice tracks. I also grabbed a copy of his tribute to Eddie 'The Chief' Clearwater called Westmont to Chicago. I speak about it at some point. 'Nuff for Now.