It's not often that someone does an entire CD of blues covers, especially pre-WWII blues, but the Bluff City Backsliders have done just that, going way back to the start for their material, as well as points in between. As liner notes writer Jim Dickinson metaphorically put it, in a great little piece of scribin' (the guy should be a critic—the few of us who know something about the craft could use a few more like him), this CD satisfies your every desire for this brand of sonic rollickin', ranging between blues, folk, jug, and judgement.
The band's a septet with a man-headed dog as a mascot (someone tell PETA!) and tackles everything from boozy yowls with scratchy backporch neighborhood klatsches (Aunt Caroline Dyer Blues) to a sassy N'awleans strut and pomp (Let Me Play with Yo' Yo-Yo) replete with muted 'bone and whorehouse pinanner. Singer Jason Freeman sounds as though wrenched from a Carolina saloon or maybe even a swingin' old Fleischer cartoon (catch the pumped up St. James Infirmary, from which the group apparently got its moniker)—not sure which, but he belts it out with a gutsily convincing "I've been there" timbre.
The Bluff City Backsliders is one of those bands which only at first seems a bit sloppy; they're actually tight as all get-out but preserve the informal New Orleans air so well that they obviously take great pride in being able to count the bars in whatever way they choose. That sort of trait is a delight and available only to those who mastered their craft long ago, now able to lay it down in every way conceivable. The gents choose to be preservationists, but I'm betting the band could rave it up jam style at the drop of a hat. Mind you, I'm not encouraging that, as this sort of superlative fare is all too rare, and I wouldn't want to be guilty of cheating myself of more of it in the future...but it's a thought, isn't it?
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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