A Glimpse of Southern CD releases
By Michael B. Smith
A Blues Tribute to Ol' Pink, and Rainbows of Southern Rock
"Piedmont Blues," New Legacy Duo (DigiPro 9901)
Deep down within the foothills of South Carolina, there once lived a blues man named Pink Anderson, a man who wrote the blues, sang the blues, and lived the blues.
A man who sang and danced and told jokes, performing in the traveling medicine shows and playing for tips outside the general store in downtown Spartanburg. A man of vast importance in the annals of blues music history, yet as poor as a churchmouse. A man who, along with North Carolina's Rev. Gary Davis, created a legacy all his own with his renditions of tunes like "John Henry," "In the Jailhouse Now" and "Greasy Greens." A man who would prove to be a pivotal influence on musicians worldwide, including Syd Barrett whose band, Pink Floyd, would be named after Anderson.
He was a man who would also influence musicians as varied as Buddy Guy and the late Toy Caldwell, a fellow Spartanburg picker who spent the bigger part of his career at the helm of The Marshall Tucker Band. A few years later, a young whippersnapper by the name of Freddie Vanderford would also come out of Spartanburg County, singing and blowing a mean harp in a band called The Shades, all the while tipping his hat to the original Piedmont blues man himself, Pink Anderson.
Nowadays, Vanderford is holding his own sort of medicine shows, accompanied by the youthful Brandon Turner on acoustic guitar, and paying homage to the enduring legacy of Piedmont blues. On this, New Legacy Duo's debut disc, the music comes across as clear as a Carolina mountain stream and as tasty as a bowl of grits with some good ol' fried catfish.
The 14-song set kicks off with a Pink Anderson favorite, "She Can Cook Good Sallett," before laying down a plenary rendition of Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues." The album literally moves with the blues, as the Duo covers other Pink Anderson compositions like "Nobody Home But Me" and "Chickens," Willie Dixon's "Same Thing," Blind Lemon Jefferson's "One Kind Favor," and an excellent bag of traditional blues tunes, including "Anybody Seen My Gal?" "Cigarette Blues," "Why You Treat Me Like That," and "Gin Done Done it,"-one of several tunes to feature Turner on lead vocals as well as acoustic or resonator guitar. Also filling in the gaps here and there is long-time Shades drummer Todd Scarborough on washboard.
With "Piedmont Blues," New Legacy Duo does an apt job of reiterating the importance of Carolina blues music, and just how much fun can be had with a lone guitar player and a soulful harp player.
The Colors of Rock
"It's About Time," Bobby Whitlock (Grapevine 265)
Bobby Whitlock is nothing short of a musical legend. From his days with Eric Clapton in Derek & The Dominoes, through his excellent session work and solo albums, Whitlock's talent has continued to spread itself across the canvas of rock-'n-roll in shades of blue, and other bright colors.
With "It's About Time," the colors blend into one of Whitlock's most intriguing creations yet. Beginning with the absolutely hauntingly beautiful "There She Goes," Whitlock adds subtle nuances to the canvas, one on top of the other, until his creation has been completed.
And what a creation it is, highlighted by spirit-filled re-recordings of a couple of tunes co-written with Clapton, "Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad," and "Bell-Bottom Blues," backed up with great new songs like the lovely "Standing in the Rain," and the rocking "Born to Sing the Blues."
The musicians Whitlock brings to the project are another reason for this album's undeniable positive energy. Steve Cropper, Jim Horn and Buddy Miller all join in, just to name a few.
"Sold Me Down the River" rocks with a Little Feat type of vibe, and features dead-on background vocals from Ashley Whitlock, while "It's Only Midnite" is filled with soul and passion. "Ghost Driver" is a haunting story of one man's final high-speed ride through the night.
The set closes with "I Love You," a plea from the songwriter to let the person you love know how you feel before it's too late. The love song caps off a fine set from a musician we haven't heard enough from in recent years- and it's about time.
Southern Rock on the Rise
Return of Winters "Southern Rockers," The Winters Brothers Band (South Star 1A2000)
It's also been far too long since we've heard from Donnie and Dennis Winters, but at the risk of sounding like a cliche, it was worth the wait.
This all-new release from some of Southern rock's long lost sons has as much rocking energy and red-hot guitar as their 1970s recordings; from the opener, "Country Boy Rock & Roller" to the 100-percent Southern guitar riffs of "Full Moon Rider," it is obvious that the Winters have returned with a vengeance.
The funky "Tasty" makes you think that the South is indeed about to rise again, at least in the world of rock -'n-roll. "Family Curse" rocks with a Georgia Satellites-meets-ZZ Top vibe, and "What Kind of Lover" has a real Top-40 feel.
While each of the eight new studio cuts are great, there is just something special about the tracks that follow. They were recorded live in Nashville in November of 1999, and they sound fabulous.
The set starts off with the Winters' classic "Sang Her Love Songs," and goes into a medley of greats that include "Misty Mountain Morning," "Smoky Mountain Log Cabin Jones," and I Can't Help it." It's a Southern Rock revival of major proportions, to be sure.
During the '70s, The Winters Brothers Band toured with everyone from Charlie Daniels to The Marshall Tucker Band and everyone in between. As we plunge into the twenty-first century, it looks as though they are ready to take the buffalo by the horns once again, and play a role in the resurgence of Southern Rock as a major presence in the music world.
Copyright © The Southerner 2000.