This is my first introduction to Dave Thompson and Big Love. Dave Thompson is a young man who plays good electric blues guitar, leaning more towards upbeat numbers on the funk and rock-blues side. Instrumentally, he has some interesting things to say and some of his fast passes and turns are memorable. He’s backed by a tight club combo that pushes him up to the front.
Dave recorded 11 original tunes live in-the-studio at Jimmy’s Auto Care in Oxford, Mississippi. Though he writes and sings, it’s clear the guitar tells the real story. “After Hours Bar” has a slinking, slightly shaky, ambling instrumental lead-in. Just imagine yourself strolling easily along down to the corner club some Saturday night to check the haps. Careful, there’s trouble right there in the second second sentence as “Two mens got in a fight, and one got shot down”. No tippy-toeing away, no need to pay any mind, the couples keep dancing, “Me and my woman was slow jackin’ across the floor”. Until the real trouble makers show up, “the police and his forty four” and the whole situation just gets worse. The tune is simple and sung in a slightly flattened voice. In the lyrics, there is not a hint of emotion. Nor is there is a single adjective or adverb, just nouns and verbs, facts and details. The colorful, descriptive part comes from the guitar lead-in.
The guitar is where Dave can shine. “Instrumental #7” with his aggressive fast picking is enough to let anyone know that Dave Thompson is determined to get his licks in. What I find myself liking the most about the record is that this re-issue of Thompson’s debut is somehow symbolic.
Originally released in 1995, the CD exists in part because a well known and respected music writer had taken this on as one of his final projects. Suspecting the state of his own poor health and that the clock was winding down for him, Robert Palmer latched on to Dave Thompson and produced his record for Fat Possum. He also took that opportunity to promote the music of Northern Mississippi to anyone who would listen perhaps in the hope of giving the artists some kind of exposure.
The publicity piqued the interest of a major distribution company, but what was to have been a sure deal soon ended up in litigation in several courthouses. Because of legalities, Dave’s records became unavailable. Somehow, Fat Possum continued on and has re-released Dave Thompson’s debut again five years later. Sometimes that’s just good enough. But I wouldn’t mind hearing what Dave is playing these days.
// Notes from the Road
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