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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

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Something Else reviews new single ElectroBluesSociety + Boo Boo Davis

East St. Louis blues boss Boo Boo Davis continues to spend his quarantine time building a new album with Netherlands-based ElectroBluesSociety (Jan Mittendorp + Jasper Mortier) one track at time. Just the other day, the potent transatlantic collaborators dropped their fourth such Covid track. (We discussed some of the prior singles here and here).

“It’s A Sad Thing” starts with a crunchy-as-fried-chicken guitar riff, and Davis’ swaggering howlin’ and blues harp wailing does the rest. As the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion did with RL Burnside, Boo Boo and the ElectroBluesSociety makes obvious the strong relation between the blues and rawer forms of rock, making the two forms of music sound as one.

As usual, Black and Tan Records is distributing ElectroBluesSociety this hot new track from Boo Boo Davis and the ElectroBluesSociety.

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review ElectroBluesSociety feat Boo Boo Davis

Boo Boo Davis

Boo Boo Davis’ rigorous touring schedule got severely curtailed last year when Covid hit, so he fought cabin fever by writing and recording some new tunes. With the help of the guitar/drums outfit from the Netherlands, ElectroBluesSociety, Davis has been conjuring up a few tracks while stuck back home in East St. Louis.

The first of these came out in January, 2021, and we dug the haunting, trance boogie groove of “Secret.” Boo Boo and his Dutch friends did it again with “See A Better Day.”

“See A Better Day” is another perfect blend of Davis’ genuine, American mid-century blues with Jan Mittendorp’s and Jasper Mortier’s studio sensibilities. Everything — from Boo Boo Davis’ voice and harmonic, Mittendorp’s stinging guitar and Mortier’s funky pulse and standup bass — just bellows out from a muddy, analog-ish and smoky haze.

Boo Boo Davis’ latest single comes to us courtesy of Black and Tan Records. Get yourself a download or stream of “See A Better Day” today from iTunes, Spotify or Deezer.

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little review SomethingElseReview

here is a little review on the new single from ElectroBluesSociety feat Boo Boo Davis.

Boo Boo Davis is one of the last of old school electric bluesmen but even a deadly virus pandemic can’t slow him down much. Sure, musicians can’t tour right now but they can still compose and record, so Davis has been collaborating long distance from East St. Louis with his longtime touring band ElectroBluesSociety out of The Netherlands. It’s still too early for their follow up to a collection of Chicago blues covers, but they got started and already put out a completed track for the world to enjoy.

“Secret” (Black and Tan Records) is exactly what we’ve come to expect from a Boo Boo Davis song that’s been given the ElectroBluesSociety treatment. Jan Mittendorp (guitar) and Jasper Mortier (drums and bass) lays in a trance boogie groove and does just enough studio manipulation to make it spine-tingling haunting, amplifying the blues feel instead of covering it up. But it’s not like they have to do that much because Boo Boo’s voice can sound ominous on its own.

After a year of upheaval, we’re glad there are some things that didn’t change. Thankfully, Boo Boo Davis never will.

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UK review for The Old Ramblers

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 ElectroBluesSociety feat Boo Boo Davis in Blues & Rhythm (UK)

ElectroBluesSociety are an ‘experimental electro blues’ duo from The Netherlands, comprising Black & Tan label boss Jan Mittendorp on guitar and various electronics, and bass player/drummer Jasper Mortier. The label has worked frequently with Drew, Mississippi-born bluesman James ‘Boo Boo’ Davis since releasing his debut album in 1999, and during a European tour in 2018, Boo Boo, now in his seventies, Jan and Jasper laid down seven songs during three hours in the studio. They went back to basics for these performances and added the electronics afterwards. The tracks were originally released as singles (ie.digital releases of single tracks) during 2018 and 2019, and were generally well-received; this new release, styled as an ‘EP’, gathers them together. As the label name reveals, these tracks are cover versions, of course, from Howlin’ Wolf – Boo Boo would frequently perform his songs with his brothers in Saint Louis in the ’60s – and Elmore James, who was a friend of his father’s. Oh, and don’t worry about those ‘electronic additions’ – they may sound a little peculiar on the intro to ‘Back Door Man’, and that track is perhaps the most experimental here, but they are not really that obtrusive overall, and might help with attracting younger audiences. Boo Boo’s rural-sounding, Wolf-ish vocals and raw, wailing harmonica work are good enough to make up for it throughout anyhow. A little surprisingly, ‘Tell Me’ is an unexpected personal favourite, a very, very fine performance with a wonderful vocal.This is a digital only release from Black & Tan subsidiary KuvVer and it is available on all the usual download and streaming platforms. Boo Boo’s scheduled European tour was cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, a serious loss of income for him – buythis and support a genuine bluesman.

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SomethingElse reviews ElectroBluesSociety feat Boo Boo Davis

A couple of months ago I told y’all about this EP that vintage bluesman Boo Boo Davis put out with ElectroBluesSociety sensibly titled Chicago Blues Covers. This makeshift trio (Davis, guitarist Jan Mittendorp and drummer Jasper Mortier) made a mess of covers of electric blues standards charged by the retro-modern studio finagling of the ElectroBluesSociety and the sheer aura of one Boo Boo Davis. And they laid down the tracks for these songs all in one afternoon in 2018. Now we learn that their label KuvVer Records has dropped another track from apparently that same session, Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor.” Boo Boo’s rendition carries the same machismo as Wolf’s but aside from that, it sounds almost like a wholly different song. If anything, the analog-y, reverb-drenched sonics of this two year-old recording sounds even more ancient than the fifty-six year-old original and Mortier keeps the song lively with a booming backbeat. Davis voice echoes from the bottom his soul but his blues harp shouts louder and authoritatively. Even if you’ve heard this song a thousand times before, your experience with it isn’t complete without hearing ElectroBluesSociety and Boo Boo Davis tackle it. They give old blues back its youthful vitality because they know how to make it brash and raw.