This man, he came like a ghost into the blues world with his pocked face and grizzled posture. He howls like a reverend and hisses like a snake. He’d been hiding there, in the shadows, for years, but suddenly he put everything to rest to pursue his dream as a bluesman. And Watermelon Slim’s quite the renaissance man, meaning he had a lot to put down, and now he’s got a lot to talk about. Slim’s a Vietnam vet, protest songwriter, truck driver, watermelon farmer, holder of a master’s degree in History from Oklahoma State, and recepient of 2005’s W.C. Handy Best New Artist blues award. And if that’s not a recipe for a cool story, I don’t know what is. Slim’s fuzzy and emotive harmonica, his wicked slide, and his strong vocals mingle with the history of the blues itself on this self-titled release. Slim and the Workers accomplish Chicago-style blues, as well as boogie and even hill country delta blues, across the span of fourteen tracks, many of which have the undertones of struggle (social, financial, romantic etc.) often apparent in the blues. In many ways, this effort is comfortingly traditional in its style, but the compositions are just off-kilter enough to be interesting, never failing to stand out in a crowd of peers. Watermelon Slim is one of our blues gems, and though he didn’t come to this trade full-time until now (he’s approaching 57 with youthful non-chalance), Slim is bound to remain in the blues cannon for years to come.
// Notes from the Road
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