Sunday, July 3, 2011

Chris, Tabby, and the Blues

Tonight I listened to a blues CD that I have always enjoyed - Red Mud by Chris Thomas King. King, the son of Baton Rouge bluesman Tabby Thomas, is an eclectic musician whose output includes electric blues, old-style country blues, hip-hop, soul blues, and more. Red Mud, from 1998, is an interesting mix of originals (blues and otherwise) and blues classics. Like I said, I've always enjoyed this album, and I was enjoying it tonight. But two tracks unexpectedly grabbed me and brought me to the edge of my seat.

Those two tracks were "Hoodoo Party" and "Bus Station Blues," both written by Tabby Thomas, and both featuring his vocals. These two songs got to me on a level that that King's own songs and covers (though excellent) didn't. I'm not sure what the significance of this is, if any. Tabby is a more limited musician than his son, although his voice is perhaps more compelling. Is the "lesson" here that the further one gets from the source of the blues, the more diluted the message gets? Maybe the most powerful blues performances are by those musicians whose level of sophistication doesn't permit them to play anything else but the blues.

I'm not sure what all this means, but I made sure to play a couple of Tabby Thomas 45s before I went to bed. They sure sounded good.

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