WATERMELON SLIM & THE WORKERS
LIVE AT THE GROUND ZERO BLUES CLUB MAY 12, 2007
Northern Blues (NBM0060)
Hard Times, Hard Labor, Ash Tray, Devil's Cadillac, Peaches, Who's Gonna Pay?, Jimmy Bell, Truck Holler #2, You Ain't Gonna Worry My Life Anymore, 61 Highway, Black Water, Dumpster Blues, Buick Fifty Nine, Long Distance Call, Oklahoma Blues.
This is what all us Watermelon Slim fans have been waiting for. Recorded in Clarksdale in 2007, it's Slim at his hottest with that superb band of Cliff Belcher on bass, Ronnie McMullen playing lead guitar, Michael Newberry on drums and, of course, Slim on dobro slicing and sliding his way through the songs - that's when he's not wailing away on the harmonica.
They hit the stage running with sixteen tracks, mostly gems from his first two CDs (Watermelon Slim & The Workers NBM0032 and The Wheel Man NBM0039) sprinkled with oldies like Long Distance Call, My Babe and 61 Highway.
Slim is resplendent in a white suit standing over his dobro playing tons of guitar supported with nice snatches of rhythm thrown in by McMullen who relishes getting to grips with some sizzling solos and snappy runs over and around Slim's snazzy slide lines. Obviously they've played together for a while and one look from Slim can make the band change chords, quicken the beat or stop dead on a dime.
There are a trio of guest musicians on board too. To Slim's obvious delight, Jimbo Mathus plays stuttering slide guitar on three tracks and Big George Brock appears on two more. Charlie Musselwhite ups the ante the minute he steps on stage, heating things up considerably as he cranks out some hefty harmonica licks that set the rocker Buick Fifty Nine on fire. No doubt at all that the old boy's still got it!
The performances include the heart-felt tribute to Fred McDowell 61 Highway with its great whining slide and Jimmy Bell, an ancient number from the depths of Cat Iron's song book. And has there ever been a more self-pitying set of problems than those on Slim's own terrific blues Hard Times?
Everything you can ask for in a live concert is here - top class songs delivered sharply and succinctly with nary a duff note, together with a distinct insight into the way the artist works. You'll find out more about Slim in the special features section that includes a long interview with Chip Eagle, a short conversation with John Mayall and a short but sweet segment where McMullen and Newberry talk about old times while Slim doodles around with the slide guitar in the background. It's perfect. One to treasure.
Review Date: November 2010