Monday, May 26, 2008

Review: Bernie Pearl "Old School Blues"

I have to thank my friend Chris Puyear for tipping me onto Bernie Pearl. Chris is a DJ at KOPN in Columbia MO--he does the Blues on Broadway show on Saturday nights. He played this great version of a song--"Automobile Blues" which was originally done by Lightnin' Hopkins. l have heard everybody do this song, but I had never heard it so cool and soulful. I called Chris while he was on the air and asked him "Who was that?" We ended up talking for a while & it was Bernie Pearl. Bernie is not a kid--he has been playing guitar in the Los Angeles area since the 50s. He learned to play hanging out in his brother's club, learning from the greats as they travelled thru--from Mance Lipscomb, Lightnin' Hopkins, Brownie McGhee. Mr Pearl is VERY excellent on both acoustic and electric guitars. He describes this set "Old School Blues" as typical of his live shows recorded live in the studio. There is one disc of acoustic and one disc of electric, and they were recorded earlier this year. By now I hope i have dropped enough hints to get you excited--you need to hear this guy play the blues. The acoustic disc is especially great--Bernie plays "Blues in a Bottle" and "Goin' Down Slow" and "Country Sugar Mama" and "Pawnshop Blues" and they're all great. I think the only acoustic guitar player that compares is the great Doc Watson. This is the way Doc Watson would play blues if he played blues. On the electric disc Pearl plays "Cherry Ball' and the aforementioned "Automobile Blues" and "Crosscut Saw and "Drivin' Wheel" and a bunch of others. It is terrific blues music played with soul and taste and command. This is a worthy disc for every blues-lover's library. You can find out more about Bernie Pearl, and you can buy his cds, at his website:

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Review: "Meet Me in the Cotton Fields"

Terry "Big T" Williams & Wesley "Junebug" Jefferson have joined a long and illustrious blues tradition with "Meet Me in the Cotton Fields"--the duet record. It is as old as Brownie & Sonny and as new as Moreland and Arbuckle--but the general outlines are two people sharing vocals and instruments to express what life is like. Telling what one person could not express. Well, these two guys share and it sounds real good. Four of these songs are written by Wesley Jefferson, two are by Terry Williams, three are traditional and one is a Muddy Waters cover. These two haven't played together for a long time, but they grew up in the same place, (Clarksdale, Mississippi) they have similar backgrounds, and they have both played the country blues as an art form and an avocation. These guys know how to play the blues and they do these songs proud. This is one of those cds to pack if you are driving from Memphis south thru the Delta on hIghway 61, and if you are ever near Clarksdale Mississippi stop in at Cathead Music and say Hello to Roger Stolle, one of the really good guys helping keep the blues alive.

This release is on Broke and Hungry Records, which is a new label from St Louis, Missouri specializing in the country blues. The website is at