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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Činjenica je da sa starim, provjerenim bluesmanom teško možete “fulati”. Nizozemski duo ElectroBluesSociety feat. Boo Boo Davis EP-jem “Chicago Blues Covers” objavljenim 31. svibnja preko izdavačke kuće KuvVer Records zapravo ne bježe od svoje životne i glazbene priče. Drugo je pitanje koliko su u svemu tome uspjeli…
EP “Chicago Blues Covers” je zapravo okupljena kolekcija singlova koji su nastali tijekom 2018. i 2019. za europske turneje Boo Boo Davisa. Naime, eksperimentalni elektro blues duo ElectroBluesSociety ušli su u studio i nakon tri sata svirke dobili smo sedam skladbi koje su objavljivane kao singlovi a sada su svi izdani kao ovaj EP. Chicago blues spajan s elektro bluesom a sve kroz poznate blues standarde dali su više–manje uspješne rezultate. Što to znači? U nekim odabranim pjesmama ovaj spoj je bio uspješan i nadahnut, u drugim je ostao pomalo sterilan i nedorečen. A sve ovisi opet na koji način se doživljava i reaktivira cijela ova glazbena priča. Chicago blues klasici Howlina’ Wolfa i Elmorea Jamesa teško da mogu “fulati”, mogu samo biti, da to tako napišem, sterilni i pomalo nedorečeni u glazbeno-prezentacijskoj formi. Pred nama je zapravo nastojanje da se uglazbi staro i novo, tradicionalno i moderno i da onda sve to ostavi upečatljivi dojam kod slušatelja. Moram priznati da je taj glazbeni projekt ostavio uglavnom dobar dojam na mene osobno, što ne znači da će svi to doživjeti na taj način.
Davis je rođen i odrastao u gradiću Drew, u srcu Delte. Znamo da je cijelo to područje bogato pamukom, koji je zahtjevao puno radne snage, među baš tim radnicima, bilo je dosta sjajnih glazbenika, koji su obilježili blues kao glazbeni stil. Primjerice, Charley Patton samo je jedan od njih. Ljudi su trebali da ih netko odmakne od teškog rada, od sunca, znoja, i da im u smiraj dana ponudi nešto što će ih oraspoložiti i dati im snage za novi radni dan. To je zapravo bila glavna zadaća glazbenika koji su izvodili blues, boogie, R&B i sve ono što ima dodirnih točaka s ovim glazbenim pravcima. Od najranijeg djetinjstva Boo Boo okružen je glazbom, crkvenim pjevanjem, a njegov otac Sylvester Davis, osim što je bio nadničar, svirao je s imenima kao što su John Lee Hooker, Elmore James i Roberta Pete Williams. Nije čudno što Davis Jr. pamti kako su svi oni vježbali u njihovoj kući i to je zapravo urezalo itekekve duboke i neraskidive veze i brazde u njegovom biću.
S nepunih osamnaest već je nastupao s ocem i starijom braćom. Sve to značilo je biti non-stop “on the road” po cijeloj Delti. U ranim šezdesetim Boo Boo i njegova braća odlaze na sjever, u St. Louis, gdje su nastupali uz velikane glazbene scene St Louisa (Albert King, Ike Turner, Chuck Berry i drugi).
The Davis Brothers Blues Band svaki vikend bio je kućni bend u Tabby’s Red Room u istočnom St. Louisu punih osamnaest godina. Činjenica je da ga život nije mazio, to je 100% točno jer Davis nije naučio čitati ni pisati, jednostavno nije bilo vremena ili novaca za njegovo školovanje, no pronašao je načina da opstane u modernom svijetu. Da se ne osjeća manje vrijednim, dapače, Boo Boo Davis stekao je reputaciju izvrsnog blues glazbenika, kome taj i takav blues pomaže da zadrži svoj duhovni mir i život na razini dostojne čovjeka. Jer treba preživjeti svaki novi dan i to je zapravo taj život. Iz njega Davis čupa elemente za svakodnevni opstanak i o tome on pjeva. Život donosi i dobro i loše, on je običan i jednostavan i stvaran je.
Ušavši u studio Davis samo krene i pjesme izlaze jedna za drugom. Na ovom tonskom zapisu uz Boo Boo Davisa na vokalu i usnjaku uz eksperimentalni elektro blues duo, koji su snimili ovih sedam skladbi onako u uživo, bez puno mudrovanja, kako su nekada to radili i snimali legendarni blues glaznenici. Baš zato sve ovo što čujete zvuči tako stvarno i životno Davis i ElectroBluesSociety odradili su doista dobar posao. A sve ostalo ovisi o ukusima slušatelja i poklonika bluesa.
ElectroBluesSociety Featuring Michel Peters—Hoochie Coochie Man—
Here is another single track from this Dutch outfit, with a local singer turning in a version of the Muddy Waters classic. Some of these issues on Black & Tan subsidiary label KuvVer Records have kept reasonably close to the originals – this one doesn’t. The throbbing, up tempo backing is largely electronic, though with pounding drums and some excellent blues guitar, whilst Michel’s singing is fine. The whole thing does actually work well, so, if you have a youngster who feels that the blues is old hat, try to get them to give this a listen – you never know…
Duo blues expérimental néerlandais composé de Jasper Mortier à la basse et à la batterie et de Jan Mittendorp aux guitares et aux effets, ElectroBluesSociety bouscule les conventions du blues depuis déjà quelques belles années et inonde régulièrement le marché de ses diverses productions dans lesquelles le blues des aînés est souvent revu et corrigé à la sauce actuelle, avec une pointe d’electro mais sans jamais s’éloigner d’un pouce des valeurs d’origines des morceaux. Alors que les deux musiciens accompagnaient le chanteur et harmoniciste Boo Boo Davis sur une tournée européenne en 2018, l’idée leur vint subitement de se rendre en studio avec l’artiste originaire de Drew, dans le Mississippi, et de mettre en boite à ses côtés et en l’espace de trois heures quelques classiques du blues, et non des moindres. Le résultat est sans appel, avec pas moins de sept titres qui ont déjà été proposés en single en 2018 et 2019 mais qui prennent aujourd’hui la forme d’un EP que l’on peut télécharger sur toutes les bonnes plateformes. De Howlin’ Wolf à Willie Dixon en passant par Elmore James et Robert Johnson, ElectroBluesSociety et Boo Boo Davis vont nous proposer de véritables pépites de blues baignées de guitares bien juteuses, d’harmonicas gouleyants à souhait et de voix rugueuses, des trésors en douze mesures qui nous entrainent du Delta jusqu’à Chicago avec des classiques parmi les classiques revisités et subtilement agrémentés d’un pointe de modernisme qui ne nuit en rien, loin de là, à la très haute valeur intrinsèque des « Smokestack Lightnin », « Tell Me », « Evil », « How Many More Years », « Dust My Broom », « Little Red Rooster » et autres « Back Door Man » qui glissent dans la platine avec une finesse impressionnante. Si la démarche peut paraître osée sur le papier, force est de constater que le résultat est d’un excellent niveau et que le jeu en vaut vraiment la chandelle. A écouter de toute urgence !
David Philips bekijkt de boel van de positieve kant met zijn nieuwe compositie over de corona crisis. In Bliss (a quarantaine song) bezingt hij de milieu effecten van de pandemie op zijn woonomgeving. Gedurende de quarantaine veranderde Barcelona – de thuishaven van David Philips – van een vervuilde, stinkende en lawaaierige stad in een rustige, vriendelijke en schone stad voor wat betreft de luchtkwaliteit. Het is natuurlijk bijna onmogelijk dat dit zo blijft, maar in een lied kun je je eigen draai aan de werkelijkheid geven.
Op de drumtrack na – die werd geleend van een nooit uitgebrachte demo uit 2017 – werd het lied opgenomen op de zolderkamer van David in Barcelona, waar hij de afgelopen maanden werkte aan nieuw materiaal, zoals op muziekgebied als op het tekenvlak.
Het nummer Bliss (a quarantaine song) is te downloaden via de bekende platforms.
There are a lot of great folk singers who can deliver a song with a fine croon and a fluidly fingerpicked acoustic guitar. The ones of these who really stand out are the ones who are perceptive about the world around them and find something positive and lasting about humanity in the midst of strife. Strife, such as our current one, this global pandemic.
Seth Walker quickly stepped up to the moment with “We Got This.” Across the pond in Barcelona, Spain, David Philips found his own sunny angle, a silver lining to all this despair: Mother Nature is getting a much-needed break.
“Bliss (A Quarantine Song)” is set up with his usual simple but foot-tapping arrangement. Philips discovers ‘bliss’ from the normally smoggy Barcelona to a quieter one not overrun by tourists and emissions, where his “lungs get no abuse, while my ears rest quietly without a sound.”
Philips is certainly wanting this worldwide health crisis to end as much as the rest of us; he can’t gig as long as people crowded in clubs spread the plague. But he also asks, “Oh why can’t it just stay like this, with everyone at home/This could be eternal bliss, if we just leave well alone.”
Something well worth pondering over as we plot a new normal in the post-Covid-19 world.