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review Boo Boo Davis on Rootsville (B)

James “Boo Boo” Davis laat terug van zich spreken. De nu al 75 jarige Delta bluesman bracht nog met regelmaat enkele singles en re-releases uit maar vanaf maart pronken ze bij “Black & Tan Records” met een nieuwe full CD vol met originele nummers. Op deze “Tree man” vinden we 11 nummers terug waarvan er 10 het bordje “nieuw” op zich mogen spelden. Eéntje betreft hier een nummer uit 2002 dat in een nieuw arrangement werd gegoten. Desalniettemin gaat het hier over origineel werk van “Boo Boo Davis”. We moeten al terug tot 2015 toen zijn “Oldskool” op de markt kwam maar kunnen en mogen uiteraard niet verwachten dat iemand van zijn leeftijd en steker nog met zijn staat van dienst ons ieder jaar weer komt te verrassen. De laatste “live” ontmoeting met Boo Boo dateert al dan 2015, toen in de Missy Sippy te Gent samen met zijn vaste kompanen Jan Mittendorp en John Gerritse. De blues van Boo Boo Davis is herkenbaar aan zijn eigen harpgrooves, maar allen kennen we natuurlijk ook zijn aanstekelijke “Thank You Day”, een yell die je al onmiddellijk na de openingstrack “Dirt Road” op ons wordt los gelaten. Na twee laid back bluesjes komt Boo Boo Davis met “Stay out All Night Long” terug onder stoom. Onwaarschijnlijk waar hij als 75-jarige nog die kracht vandaan haalt op zijn Mississippi Saxofoon. Swingend alom in die mate zelfs dat we zelf even moeten op adem komen na deze floorfiller. Thank You Day! Even een onvervalst country bluesje en tijd voor een cool down met “She Won’t Call Me on the Telephone”. Ondanks weerom een jaartje meer op de teller hoor je niet het minste onderscheidt van toen we deze Delta man een eerste maal zagen op onze podia, en ook dat is al een tijdje geleden. We herinneren ons nog zo Blues Peer editie 2009. Het album is een mix van diepe Delta swamp zoals titeltrack “Tree man” en meer uptempo bluesje als het afsluitende “I’m Getting Old”. Kortom een weerom meer dan behoorlijk statement van Boo Boo Davis met deze “Tree Man” waarvoor Thank You Day…

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review Boo Boo Davis from the UK

Boo Boo Davis “Tree Man” (Black & Tan B&T 045)
Mississippi born and long-time Saint Louis based bluesman James “Boo Boo” Davis is one of the last to have sung the blues in the cotton fields, and his music is the real deal. For many years now he has been working with Dutch label Black & Tan – with label boss Jan Mittendorp on guitar and drummer John Gerritse. Sometimes they will go for a specific idea – say, showcasing Boo Boo’s soul side – but for this set the focus is firmly o producing a straight-forward, down home blues set. Some of these songs are slow-ish, brooding compositions in the vein of Howling Wolf (Davis’ voice certainly suits this kind of thing – led an ear to the title track, or ‘What’s The Matter With You Baby’), whilst ‘She Won’t Call Me On The Telephone’ is nicely up tempo and raucous, and ‘Bring My Baby Back Home’, with some slight soul tinges, is perhaps the smoothest number here – though it’s not that smooth! Boo Boo plays harp too on this set – he is not a virtuoso by any means, but he does the job perfectly well, and that comment goes for the whole album, no showboating or ego-tripping, just real blues the whole way.

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review Boo Boo Davis by Something Else

It’s no exaggeration to state that Boo Boo Davis is one of the last of the authentic blues men. Born and raised in the heart of the Mississippi Delta during the 40s and 50s, James ‘Boo Boo’ Davis had been singing the blues since the age of five throughout a childhood that included working in the cotton fields and he spent a good deal of his early adult life toiling as a blues musician in the St. Louis area. But like his contemporary RL Burnside, Davis didn’t get discovered until he had already lived a full life. First touring Europe in 2000, he was soon afterwards picked up by Netherlands-based Black and Tan Records, and has been making award-winning records under that label while regularly performing all over Europe ever since. After a string of single releases of famous blues covers on KuvVer Records it’s now time again for Boo Boo to release a new and ‘all original’ album. Tree Man sports ten brand new songs and one new version from a song that was released earlier in 2002. Tree Man wasn’t recorded in a club, but it could have easily been. Captured live in the studio with no overdubs, the guys at Black and Tan understood that Davis’ music has to be rendered strictly on his own terms, performed the way he’s been performing for some sixty odd years. Even his usual stage salutation “thank you Dave” is captured at the end of a couple of performances, his own personal shout-out to God. “Dirt Road” is no-bullshit blues with Boo Boo filling the space between the verses with some hefty harmonica that gets going full bore on the solo break. The always-irresistible blues shuffle gets delivered on “Big House All To Myself #2” and the drums/baritone guitar groove that underpins “Stay Out All Night Long” is one funky, lean number as is the talking blues “Chocolate.” “She Won’t Call Me On The Telephone” is loud and raucous like punk rock but moves like early rock ‘n’ roll (which was, after all, derived straight from the blues), and Davis’ blues harp is a runaway freight train. That harp kicks off the first slow number of this set, “Oh Baby,” where Boo Boo’s moans like he means it. “Tree Man” was written with Howlin’ Wolf’s “Back Door Man” in mind, it seems, and Davis is even heard singing convincingly in Wolf’s signature menacing scowl. Though Davis is backed by only guitar (Jan Mittendorp) and drums (John Gerritse), sometimes this trio makes a sound that fills up a large room, like the rowdy “What The Blues Is All About” and the aforementioned “She Won’t Call Me On The Telephone.” The blues has been around for a long time and it has a lot of skilled practitioners. But sometimes, there’s no substitution for the blues played by someone who has lived that bluesman life for all of his nearly eighty years on Earth. Tree Man is as real as it gets.