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review Boo Boo Davis from the UK

Boo Boo Davis—The Trio 2008 – 2019—Black & Tan B&T 356

Mississippi-born, Saint Louis-based drummer, harmonica player and especially gravel-voiced singer in the vein of Howling Wolf, Boo Boo Davis toured and recorded in Europe as a trio with Black & Tan Records boss Jan Mittendorp and John Gerritse during the timespan of the title. Sadly, all good things come to an end, and COVID put a stop to the tours, with all three men now deciding they’re now all getting a bit too old for this kind of junket. It’s a shame, but understandable – after all, Boo Boo was born in 1943 and is one of the few remaining bluesmen to have actually picked cotton in the Delta. Born on 3rd November, he’ll turn 80 this year.

So, what these guys have done is to pick fifteen of their favourite tracks from their shared discography. It’s a strong idea too – the releases have been varied, from the straight up down home Mississippi sound to blues electronica, and the hour’s worth of music here varies from the straight-forward raw sound of ‘Boo Boo Blues’ – which sounds like it should be on a 78 from Modern Records – ‘St. Louis Woman’ and ‘Cryin’ Woman’, all with fine harp and the last named with a strongly Rice Miller-ish vocal, on up to the blues-rock influenced approach of ‘Stay From The Casino’ and ‘Silvermine’ and the more mellow southern-soul styled ‘Why You Wanna Do It’.

A lovely collection then – it’s great to listen to, but it does also make me hope that these guys might yet agree to “never say never again”.

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review miXendorp from Hungary

Négyszámos EP-vel jelentkezett miXendorp

Számosan akadtak olyanok, akik az új korok kihívásainak megfelelően megkísérlik megújítani a több mint százéves múltra visszatekintő blues műfajt. Közéjük tartozik a holland Jan Mittendorp is az egyszemélyes projektjével, a miXendorppal. A project indulása az elmúlt évtized elejére tehető, ekkor jelent meg az első lemeze, a Blues + Beat, amit Európa-szerte fellépések követtek. Mittendorp néhány hónapja új dalokat kezdett írni. Ezek a blues, jazz, world music, funk, techno és mindenféle más zenének az eredeti és eklektikus keverékét képezik. Az új nótákat tartalmazó négyszámos EP Xperimental Trance Electro Blues címmel novemberben digitális formában látott napvilágot. miXendorp nem áll le, jövő év elejére további felvételeket ígér.

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review for Boo Boo Davis + ElectroBluesSociety

This is what BLUES IN THE SOUTH (UK) wrote about the new record of Boo Boo Davis + ElectroBluesSociety

B&T 987 – Boo Boo Davis + Electro Blues Society – Transatlantic Quarantaine Sessions

Regular BiTS readers might recognise some of the numbers on this set, as a few have seen release as digital singles and have been reviewed as such. East Saint Louis bluesman Boo Boo, a real old school blues singer, harpman and drummer, has been working with Dutch label Black & Tan since 1998.

They weren’t going to let a little thing like a nearly global lockdown get in the way, and these quarantine tracks are the result. Boo Boo tends to just do his thing—tough, no-nonsense vocals and wailing blues harp—whilst the ElectroBluesSociety (label boss Jan Mittendorp on guitar and “buttons” and Jasper Mortier on drums and bass) complements him with some raw electric guitar work, and often computer generated rhythms and effects. Having listened to and enjoyed the singles, it was something of a surprise that the album itself comes across as a balance of blues and electronica.

On the individual releases, it often seemed as though Boo Boo was the main focus, but on this set, there is a definite, very recognisable hybrid style. Purists might quibble about it, but Boo Boo himself seems quite happy about it. See it as a salient reminder that the blues isn’t just for old folks, you know.

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review for Senel Karatepe from the UK

Şenel Karatepe – Hard Times – Bone Union Records (BUR 1110)
Bone Union Records, a subsidiary of Black & Tan Records, continues the intriguing, innovative and highly interesting documentation of the Turkish blues scene that it began in 2020 with another highly entertaining release.

Şenel Karatepe is a singer and acoustic guitarist working in a solo setting on a set of tracks recorded around 2005 and 2006 in Izmir. The nine tracks are all accomplished performances and draw from a range of influences. There are four Robert Johnson numbers—the opening ‘Stones In My Passway’, which like all the performances here is not that different from the original but has its own charm, ‘Travelin’ Riverside Blues’, ‘Walkin’ Blues’, and a laid-back ‘Rambling On My Mind’. There there is a brooding cover of Muddy Waters’ ‘Louisiana Blues’, a fine version of ‘Driftin’ Blues’, and rather unexpectedly (though the album title might lead some to expect it), a reworking of Ray Charles’ ‘Hard Times’. A vibrant rendering of Big Bill Broonzy’s ‘Hey Hey’ is my favourite track of the set, and precedes the closer, Eric Clapton’s ‘Crying’, which fits in perfectly.

A very listenable and enjoyable release from a new and evolving blues location. It is worth checking out

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review Boo boo + ElectroBluesSociety from Germany

B&T 987 – Boo Boo Davis + ElectroBluesSociety – Transatlantic Quarantaine Sessions

Covid-19 bremst, aber verhindert nicht die Kooperation: Zwischen den Kontinenten wanderten die Sounddateien hin und her. Zwischen den Niederlanden und St. Louis. Zwischen der ElectroBluesSociety, zu der Jasper Mortier und Jan Mittendorp gehören, und Boo Boo Davis, der im Mississippi-Delta aufwuchs und sich über zwei Dekaden immer wieder in Europa auf Touren vorgestellt hatte.

„Transatlantic Quarantaine Sessions“ (Black & Tan) bezeugt ein gänzlich unvoreingenommene Zusammenarbeit: Es gibt rohen Blues und ruppigen Funk, gesungen von dem Amerikaner und eine ausgeflippte Harmonika. Aus dem schäbigen Schuppen, zu dem die Leute raus aufs Land kommen, um zu tanzen.

Doch da ist noch mehr zu haben. Zum Beispiel sphärische Übergänge zu Ambient-Dub-Blues. Genial. Eines der Stück heißt „It’s A Sad Thing“. Schade, dass wir aufs Konzert warten müssen.

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Something Else Reviews ElectroBluesSociety + Boo Boo Davis

The Dutch-based electric blues duo ElectroBluesSociety and East St. Louis’ Boo Boo Davis make the perfect combination: the former supplies the groove and the latter brings the grit. Not even lockdown can keep them apart musically. Jan Mittendorp (guitar) and Jasper Mortier (drums) do their thing on one side of the ocean and Davis howls, moans and pleads over that thing from the other side.

For this eighth track from those ‘quarantine’ sessions called “Bye Baby Bye Bye,” that’s just what Boo Boo Davis and his friends from the Netherlands did. Over a scratchy guitar and an all-business bass, Davis starts his wailing and when Mortier’s snare kicks in, the groovin’ is in full flex. Mittendorp makes stinging guitar remarks whenever they flip over to the bridge and the ElectroBluesSociety does its signature electronic touches including looping and sampling done up in just the right measure.

Track by track, a hell of a retro-modern blues album is forming before our eyes … and ears. “Bye Baby Bye Bye” ready and waiting for you from a variety of sources, like iTunes, Spotify and Deezer. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget Bandcamp.

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review for The Old Ramblers from the UK

Now it’s not every day that you find a Turkish band using their skills to reimagine old blues songs from the likes of LeadBelly, JB Lenoir, and even older…yet here we have just that. Called The Old Ramblers, this three-piece has put together some lesser-known but wonderful early blues and put their modern twist on them without taking away the rawness and elemental feel of the originals. Electric guitars are employed occasionally but this is the only nod to the modern sounds as there are no drums: the percussion comes from the bass and acoustic body…plus the judicious use of maracas! So, you’re invited on a journey to times gone by and you may just Find Me On The Road Sometime.

Opening track, Bourgeoise Blues, is interestingly shown as a co-write with Alan Lomax on the sleeve notes; Lomax was responsible for the Library of Congress recordings and his work discovered, preserved and brought to wider attention the vitality and importance of the field songs and early bluesmen of the American (mainly) Southern states. I know the song via the country blues mastery of the other name…Huddy Ledbetter or LeadBelly as he was better known. Huddy actually appears three times which shows how important his work was…and not just for writing Gallis Pole which some band or other turned into Gallows Pole. Anyway, the country/bluegrass feel is there; harp, acoustic, bass and maracas doing a good washboard impression. The electric solo is subtle and works well as does the harp solo…by the way the pronunciation of ‘bourgeoise’ is accurate from the original.

Diddie Wah Diddie is the Arthur Blake song but known by the more recognisable moniker of Blind Blake. This one again is pretty faithful and wholly recognisable and either the harp is overdubbed or Orhun has a very adaptable mouth! Good Morning Little School Girl is listed as by A.Miller…I think this refers to the real name of Sonny Boy Williamson II, whereas I thought (and a search of my blues CDs seems to confirm) it was Sonny Boy Williamson I (or John Lee Curtis Williamson to use his given name) who wrote it…not important; it is a brilliant song with so many versions out there (Paul Rodgers gets my vote) that its origin is not relevant here. The Old Ramblers do a good job keeping the more countrified origins and the bass line is the star on this one, although the electric solo is neat too. This sounds most like the Big Joe Williams version which is a good thing.

My Fat Gal, written by Merle Travis, probably would be up against the PC police today but, it’s written tongue in cheek and the band leave out the most ‘offensive’ verses from the original. True to its country and western origins the band keep it light and lilting; the acoustic solo is a highlight and sound nearly banjo but in a good way. Saturday Blues by Ishman Bracey is one of those 20s bluesmen who left a brief but significant mark on early recordings…I know of only sixteen, all in the delta crossed country blues style, and this is one of his better ones as it is more delta and the skills on show by Türker make this a favourite.

Shame Shame is a more recent (1963) song from Jimmy Reed and the train track rhythm is always a good ‘un. The slide guitar is well placed and thought out and the bass solo is something rare and welcome. Slowdown by the great JB Lenoir isn’t quite his masterpiece (I’d choose Voodoo Blues for that) but it is a fine country blues that typified JB. Another well played and honest interpretation. Take This Hammer was a ‘traditional’ prison song that LeadBelly took and made his own in such a delightful way…the lyrics may be familiar to Joey B fans even if you haven’t heard this song. Such a good song by almost anyone (Spencer Davis Group is one of the better) and hugely enjoyable here. Travelling Railroad Man provided the basis for many songs that followed and its nice to hear the original, original done so sympathetically.

Imagine if Socrates Drank The Conium ever did acoustic blues…it would sound like this. Viola Lee  (usually appended with ‘Blues’) was written by Noah Lewis for his own Jug Band but released by the better know Cannon Jug Stompers…whatever, here they don’t blow across the mouth of moonshine jugs, just a faithful and pleasing rendition. Ry Cooder did a great version too.

For the final track, we’re back with Huddie as his version of a traditional ploughing song, Whoa Back Buck, and this version conjures up the precise mood for which this was written…pure pre-war celebratory song give due deference. This album is full of curiosities as a Turkish trio takes on the early blues: sure English isn’t Sarp’s primary language but even the great LeadBelly was often difficult to decipher and these guys should be applauded for their bringing this early country blues to wider attention.

There may not be any earth-shatteringly different but they do bring sharpness and naivety to the raw originals. Do seek out the Lomax field recordings…they’re eye-opening and educational as well as huge fun for any blues fan and, The Old Ramblers have been kind enough to list their catalogue numbers on the sleeve notes (in case you were wondering what those codes meant).

Bluesdoodles rating: an album that is intriguing and welcoming and is a Great Listening addition to any true blues collection.

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review Mama & Friends from the UK

this one just came in:

Mama & Friends — Mama’s Bag / Bone Union Records
Well here’s a turn-up for the books. A group of Turkish musicians whose music reflects the early roots of the blues and gospel music, as with a high degree of authenticity, they bring to life the music of Robert Johnson, Jesse Fuller, Leadbelly and Bessie Smith and others. The musicians in question are Çağlayan Örge (banjo- guitar), Suna Suner (vocal, tambourine) and Sarp Keskiner (vocal, electric lead and slide guitar, kazoo, harmonica, tambourine, snare & a cymbal). The band was formed in 1996 and these recordings were made in 1997 at various live gigs in Turkey, recorded on a cassette recorder by in-house sound. But don’t let that put you off—this is a revivalist band par excellence! Take a listen to ‘This Little Light of Mine’, the old spiritual. It comes with vocals that sound like they emanate from a church in rural Mississippi and with a slide guitar that constantly reminds me of the very best ‘sacred steel’ work by the likes of Sonny Tredway, Willy Eason or Aubrey Ghent. These folks have done their homework! This is an album that is replete with authenticity taking some old favourites like ‘CC Rider’, ‘Trouble In Mind’ and ‘Careless Love’ and presenting them with a verve and panache that takes them to a new place. I really like this one, it has a nice feel about it and a certain je ne sais quoi which puts it in a different place than many of the revivalist groups I hear.

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review Boo Davis + ElectroBluesSociety

This short review was published July 5:

Brick by brick, the ElectroBluesSociety (Jan Mittendorp + Jasper Mortier) and Boo Boo Davis have been putting together what is turning out to be a pretty solid collection of electro-blues tunes inspired by quarantine. The latest product from the Netherlands-East St. Louis connection is a number called “What’s Going On.”

This isn’t the Marvin Gaye classic, but bluesman Boo Boo Davis crafted his own pleading for the hard truth. Constructed on top of an acoustic bass riff, the ElectroBluesSociety flesh out a brawny groove with Davis’ bellowing voice and the EBS adding haunting background touches that accentuate, not dominate.

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review Boo Boo Davis + ElectroBluesSociety from the UK

ElectroBluesSociety feat Boo Boo Davis– You Better Watch Yourself
Boo Boo Davis, born and raised in Drew, Mississippi, and the ElectroBluesSociety (Jan Mittendorp on guitar and “buttons”, Jasper Mortier on bass and drums). create some fine if rather different modern blues and here’s another – it’s not the Little Walter song, by the way. Recorded in Holland and Saint Louis, Missouri, as part of the “Transatlantic Quarantine Sessions”, it features Boo Boo’s strong down-home vocals and wailing blues harp over an electronic-styled backing and some sampled effects. It works too. Many blues lovers might shy away from the electronic backing, but this is really just another example of the music modernising itself. Give it a try…
Norman Darwen