Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Featured Interview with the Ten Foot Pole Cats

Original Link: http://www.nodepression.com/profiles/blogs/an-interview-with-the-ten-foot
Author: James G. Carlson

Boston, Massachusetts roots rock trio Ten Foot Polecats have been blazing their way down the underground music trail for a few years now, enduring the harsh terrain with all the fortitude of seasoned outlaws, tightly gripping the reins to their runaway sound. Pushing it determinedly forward, they nudge its hindquarters with their spurs, even as it grunts, huffs, puffs, clenches its teeth on the bit, stomps its hooves, holds its head high and proud, and rears up on its might rear legs. It’s a sound born of blood, sweat, heart, soul and guts; a sound, in the simplest of terms, that is a combination of dirty rock’n’roll and aggressive blues. Now, I’m not talking neo-blues here, or pseudo-blues, which tends to pass for real blues in some circles these days for lack of anything better, but rather a sound influenced by traditional North Mississippi Hill Country blues…thereby inserting Ten Foot Polecats into what I refer to as the last of today’s living bluesmen, such as T-Model Ford, Possessed by Paul James, C.W. Stoneking, Bob Log III, Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir, and Left Lane Cruiser, to name a few.

One doesn't really expect a sound such as the one Ten Foot Polecats own to come from Boston, Massachusetts. Perhaps from Mississippi, Louisiana, or Texas, but not Boston, which is better known for its Celtic punk and hardcore music these days. So when a band comes out of Boston with roots rock and blues as the main components to their particular sound structure...well, they better be damn serious about it, not to mention prepared to rock the house and lay down riffs, licks, percussion and vocals in a way that will make the old Delta, Piedmont and Hill Country masters proud. Ten Foot Polecats are just such a band, no doubt about it, and their debut full-length release "I Get Blamed For Everything I Do" on Texas's Hillgrass Bluebilly Records is the evidence to prove it.

"I Get Blamed For Everything I Do" is a strong album comprised of both cover songs and original material, clocking in at just over an hour in length with a total of thirteen tracks. Released in March of 2010 on Hillgrass Bluebilly Records “I Get Blamed For Everything I Do” has been a widely held discussion between enthusiasts of blues, rock’n’roll, and even country music. The press that the album has received has also been kind. And the trio has been touring extensively in support of it, playing several important festivals and showcases, like Deep Blues Festival, Muddy Roots, and Heavy Rebel Weekender, and sharing the stage with the likes of The Goddamn Gallows, Sasquatch & the Sickabillys, T-Model Ford, Black Diamond Heavies, Scott H. Biram, Koffin Kats, Wayne “the Train” Hancock, and Left Lane Cruiser. Truth of the matter is, Ten Foot Polecats have a sound that appeals equally to those appreciative of roots music at blues festivals, to the rockabilly cats at the Weekenders, to the margin-dwelling guys and gals at punk venues, and to the patrons of any small town dive bar.

At present the Ten Foot Polecats are Jay Scheffler, with his smoky, whiskey-throated vocals; Jim Chilson, with his crazy dexterity and fiery guitar playing; and Dave Darling, with his fevered work on the drum kit. Sadly, Dave just recently played his last show with Ten Foot Polecats and is preparing to move on to other life-things, whereupon drummer Chad Rousseau will be joining the lineup. Be that is it may, I still see quite a future for this band.

Recently I had the opportunity and pleasure of interviewing the Ten Foot Polecats. The content from that interview has been included for you here in its entirety.

In the interest of providing the readers of this piece a better understanding of the artist, or artists, with whom I am working, I would like to begin this interview in an introductory fashion and ask you: Just who are the Ten Foot Polecats, not just as musicians and singer/songwriters but as individuals, as human beings of this vast and crazy world in which we live?

The original members of Ten Foot Polecats are Jay Scheffler (vocals and harp), Jim Chilson (guitar), and Dave Darling on drums. Dave has announced his retirement for the end of 2010. We really hate to see Dave go, but this is not an easy business for many reasons. So, as of 2011 Chad Rousseau will be the new drummer for Ten Foot Polecats.

Outside of music, we work in the construction industries, trucking industries, etc…but two of us have been victims of the economy and are now unemployed. No matter if we are unemployed or work eighty hours a week, we are trying to get out on the road as much as we can to play in front of audiences who appreciate and love unique blues and roots music across the country. It’s a hard thing to do, but all good things do not come easy. Besides that, we are Massholes, just with a slightly better disposition.

How about a little history of the band?

Ten Foot Polecats were created from playing in another blues band that we felt wasn’t going in a direction that we preferred to go in. We wanted to play a more aggressive blues sound while the other band wanted to play more rock and then maybe some blues. We just didn’t want to compromise that sound, because we love dirt and junk blues, especially the North Mississippi Hill Country blues sound that they didn’t really play. So before there was Ten Foot Polecats, all three of us played in that band for four years. In fact, Jim and Dave have known each other for over thirty years and played in some other bands when they were in their late twenties.

Your sound is a combination of roots rock, dirty blues, and wild Americana in a similar vein as Left Lane Cruiser, Yeller Bellies, Th' Legendary Shack Shakers, Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir, and a few select others. What influenced you to embrace such a sound?

It really all came from being influenced by North Mississippi Hill Country blues, and also being exposed and playing on a lot of psychobilly and punk bills over the years. In our opinion, Hill Country blues is a very non-constricting music, as you can insert blues, punk, roots, rock, rockabilly, country in it and it all seems to work. Another good thing about it is that you can take it in any direction on the spot, especially when you keep it down to just guitar and drums and not have any other musicians following what comes out of our heads. Younger audiences seem to gravitate to it as well, which is great; it makes the live shows a lot more exciting, because they are up in your face. When people ask us what type of music we play, we usually say punk blues or something to that effect. What we mean by that is that we are taking a punk, no holds barred approach to blues, which in our opinion, was happening all throughout the ‘20s to ‘50s and seemed to be forgone by a lot of blues artists when they became snappy dressers and/or became two white guys with sunglasses and black suits and black ties. Sometimes people will argue with us, “you’re not punk blues…you do this or that”…or they may even say, “you’re not blues,” etc. Whatever, we play music we enjoy. Stop trying to categorize it. Just grab a drink and enjoy yourself.

"I Get Blamed for Everything I Do," your debut full-length album, was just released this year on Hillgrass Bluebilly Records. It has gotten some rather good press, and the fans seem to be responding favorably. How do you feel about the final, packaged version? And how was it working with one of the best labels in roots music today, Hillgrass Bluebilly Records?

We were very pleased with the end result of the album, and it looks like a lot of people have liked it as well, which is very gratifying. For us, the recording was very much like our live show, as we played in attack mode on most every song on the album, and recorded with hardly any over- dubbing. Except for the seven-string guitar used on “Tears On My Windshield.” So…it was a real easy experience, I guess you could say.

Working with Hillgrass Bluebilly has been fantastic. There isn’t enough we can say about them that people in this scene don’t already know. They have garnered a lot of respect and it is well earned. We give them all the credit in the world because they are listening to their hearts. They believe in the music and strive to get it to as many people who love this music as they can. They think of the musicians and devoted fans of this music as family, not as a product or a purchaser. Speaking from experience, that is the exact thing musicians want from their record company. Hopefully people who don’t know Hillgrass Bluebilly keep digging musically and find Hillgrass Bluebilly because they are putting together quite a catalog of great music. Needless to say, we are very proud to be a part of their family.

In keeping with the last question a bit... One can't help but notice all the cover songs on the album. Covers by the likes of T-Model Ford and Son House, just to name two. Why did you do so many cover songs as opposed to original material? And what did you go by in choosing those particular songs?

Basically, we were going to only have a few cover songs on the CD, maybe three or four. So we went in and wrote down which songs we should keep off the CD and all three of us had different answers on what should be omitted. So we said, Hell with it. Let’s put thirteen or fourteen songs on it. It shows, too, because when we see people review the album, or play tracks from it on the radio, the favorite songs selected to be played or discussed are never the same. Since the time of Bob Dylan and the Beatles, it has seemed very important that performers write all their own songs. Before them, it was all about putting your own stamp on something familiar; taking a song to a new place. In blues and jazz, it has always been the tradition to “interpret” songs; find something new in them that was not initially apparent. I don’t think anyone referred to Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five or Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers as “cover bands”; they were playing great music, and it didn’t matter that they didn’t write it all. Hoagy Carmichael wrote “Stardust” but there’s no way he could have sung it like Louis.

As far as choosing the songs, that was probably developed over a year of playing live shows and developing our own sound. A lot of the songs were arranged on the spot too at shows. For example, one song on the CD “Dryspell” was something developed on the spot at a show. A guitar riff was laid down, the drums then picked up on it, and then Jay found some lyrics to sing over it. The lyrics ended up being a mash up of various lyrical versions of Son House’s Dryspell blues. So those songs sometimes just come out on the spot and are built in front of live audiences.

The Ten Foot Polecats have been touring quite a bit lately, with upcoming shows in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Michigan. How have your shows been going? And could you recount perhaps one or two of your most memorable moments on the road so far?

The shows have been going really well, especially on the road. More and more, people have been coming to see us, and also requesting for us to come back to their areas, so that’s a positive sign. As far as a most memorable moment, that is a tough one. The past two years we got to play a lot of festivals – Deep Blues Festival 2009, Heavy Rebel Weekender 2010, Muddy Roots 2010, Return to Milltown 2010, and more festivals are coming up in 2011. Picking one is very hard becausewe have met so many unbelievable people in the scene and played with so many amazing musicians. On November 6th, the Hillgrass Bluebilly Records Launch Party in Austin Texas was pretty special for a few reasons: it reunited a lot of the Deep Blues fans that we met in 2009, it was our first show ever in Austin, first time as a part of a Hillgrass Bluebilly event, and it let us play in front of people who have never seen us but have been listening to us for a few years. Plus, playing on the same bill as Possessed By Paul James, Larry and His Flask, Tom VandenAvond, and The Boomswagglers was quite a thrill.

Besides that, every moment of 2009 Deep Blues Festival was incredible, especially playing an aftershow in Minneapolis where some hill country blues legends were watching us and partying during our set…and then we watched them get thrown out for having a little too much fun!

This next question is for guitarist Mr. Jim Chilson. Why do you sit and play when the Ten Foot Polecats play live?

I attack the guitar pretty hard sometimes so it is actually easier to play while you got some support underneath you. Plus I tend to stomp my foot aggressively sometimes so it is much easier to do that while sitting. Actually it is probably because I am lazy. But then again for years I played standing up and running around on stage and what not, but I have never been so tired after shows as I am now. Probably because I am getting older and fatter but also because both arms are in constant motion as I am covering both the guitar and bass parts.

Which Polecat does the most songwriting? Or do you sort of split up the songwriting duties among the three of you?

Lyrically, Jay Scheffler has done the songwriting so far, and Jim and Dave put together the melodies, song structure, etc. So it is a little bit of a group effort. Jay definitely has a unique talent as far as being able to pull lyrics on the spot…just like a soloist who can improvise with his instrument, he can do it lyrically. But, if all goes as planned, on the next album we hope to have more input lyrically from Jim and Chad. We shall see how it all goes down.

Lastly, if there's anything I failed to cover, or if there's anything you would like to express or discuss, please do so now. The floor is all yours, fellas.

The only thing that we would like to add is, look for us this year on the road somewhere near you, and if you want to see us somewhere, just let us know. Email, Facebook, Myspace, homing pigeon, message in a bottle, whatever it takes...talk to us, as we love to hear from you. If you want info on the current album, merchandise, band updates, etc, check out our website http://www.tenfootpolecats.com, our Facebook page, or email us at tenfootpolecats@aol.com, and we will try get you all the info you need.

NOTE: For all of you Ten Foot Polecats who missed their show this past summer at Kung Fu Necktie in Philadelphia, they'll be in Bordentown, NJ on March 5, 2011. Maybe I'll see ya'll there.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday Morning Blues on Left Lane Cruisers' "Gettin Down On It"

Original Link: http://knocksfromtheunderground.squarespace.com/sams-corner/

Left Lane Cruiser isn’t winning any medals or getting any love from fancy magazines, never mind a shout out, but they are, right now, probably down in the basement of some smoky outpost, in front of a throng of white trash, toothless truckers and some stoned and longing grunge fans, ripping hard into the blues. High society isn’t quite their game. Their game is dingy bars, mean slide guitars, and pork n’ beans – that and getting drunk all the time (on their first tour of Europe, one of their blog posts read: “Europe is Fornicatin amazing. We have full sized billboards over here with our picture on them, and like 200 people at the shows. F**k man, and we are drunk all the time”). They are a two-piece blues band from Fort Wayne, Indiana. I’m not quite sure how I found out about them, not sure how they made it to Europe, probably the wonders of the interweb, but for the slide guitar lover, the duo is brilliant.

Their sound is pure, boot stomping blues punk – a salute to the rawness and down home soul of the Midwest. It’s a fresh blues like the Black Keys, yet more white trashy and dirty. Anyone with any sort of decency will probably be deathly afraid of them. The raunch ripping off Fredrick “Joe” Evans IV’s guitar is like a Mack truck barreling down Hell’s Highway. The lyrics would probably be horrific if you could hear them, judging by the brashness of Mr. Evans’ voice, and the titles of the songs like “Big Mama” and “Amy’s in the Kitchen.” And the drumming, done by Brenn “Sausage Paw” Beck, is hectic but simple, loud but in control. A common blog word used to describe them is “Whiskey,” or maybe chain-smoking and whiskey.

They have two albums out now: Gettin’ Down on It (Hillgrass Bluebilly Records – re-released 2009), and Bring Your Ass To the Table (Alive Records – 2008). They are not touring currently, but play shows in Fort Wayne, Indiana frequently. Here’s “Big Mama” off Bring Your Ass.

Maximum Ink Magaine reviews "Feed the Family"

Original Link:

Possessed by Paul James
Feed The Family
Record Label: Hillgrass Bluebilly Records
Review by: Kaleb Bronson
December 2010

Absorbing the true musical spirit of his father and grandfather, Konrad Wert transforms himself into Possessed by Paul James and does so with a fine-tuned form on his newest album release “Feed the Family,” a more polished yet creatively raw album of realism
Seeing Possessed by Paul James live is one feat that is unbeatable, his transformation from a genuinely kind-hearted and caring man into the maniacally controlled and beast-like man of musical charm is out of this planetary realm. His sound is like no other, mixing instrument switches continuously and fluctuating his style through a gamut of skill sets and mini-freak-outs. “Feed the Family” is Possessed by Paul James’ most crisp album yet, like the first nibble of a fresh fall apple, or a drive through the thick morning fog. Each track leaps bounds through the mental corridor with a mixture of instruments and lyrical content letting the listener hear bluegrass, punk, country blues and pure musical soul.

Think of Jiminy Cricket meeting Johnny Cash while dining at Charley Patton’s house on All Hollow’s Eve before dancing in the streets to the music of Robert Johnson; this is what Wert has to offer within every track he writes and performs. It’s a true amalgamation of emotion, spirit and spark. On the album’s title track “Feed the Family” Wert lifts his heart into the air to express the importance of ancestry; a refreshing jaunt into his soul, which then calms as he enters “When it Breaks.” This track shows the importance to always continue no matter the scattered bone trail offers you. “Go ahead all and crucify the only innocent man, go ahead and justify all of the hate you have, all of the hate you can,” Wert bellows with elegance.

Each track has the depth of the ocean floor yet the emotional capability to grasp the sounds like a floating lily pad. “Oh the Rhythm” enters a journey into Wert’s inner sanctum, the listener can absorb his emotion beyond a song, the song becomes an experience; a calming tool for the heart and a soothing ring to the ear, “Oh the Rhythm” has politics and love all in one. As any man grows old in any form, the body ages right along side, whether humans like it or not. Possessed by Paul James explains this transformation on the track “Older in my Body,” where he sings, “I’m much older in my body than my heart.” The lyric is simple but everyone can resonate with the beautiful agony.

One of Paul James’ (Konrad Wert's) most glorious songs live he takes to this record, “Take Off Your Mask.” This song and record is filled with questions about oneself; life, love, religion, family and so many more, all for the listener to choose from.
So many tracks are combined into this album of wonderful wisdom, which come to an end at “Color of my Bloody Nose.” A beautifully harmonious track of love splattered with torment; a superb ending to a labyrinth of an album.

The movement of “Feed the Family” flows like a Montana stream. Possessed by Paul James may not be headlining at the Coliseum, nor would his fans want him to, his charm, poise and skill will last as long as people notice that he is a true ‘roots’ gem in the rough.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A tribute to Hank Williams and Leadbelly: "Hiram & Huddie"

Original Link: http://www.nodepression.com/profiles/blogs/hillgrass-bluebillys-tribure
Author: James G. Carlson

Throughout the times and all the way up to the present the enduring repertoires of early country and blues artists have lived on. In many cases the songs are even more popular today than they were during the lifetimes of those long gone musicians and singer/songwriters, forever marking their rightful places in the history of music and creating legends for humankind to hold on to. That was no doubt the sort of thinking employed by those at Hillgrass Bluebilly Records when they came up with and carried out their two-disc tribute to Hank Williams and Leadbelly, the aptly titled "Hiram & Huddie," which went on to be one of the winners of the 9th annual Independent Music Awards.It's not uncommon to see tribute albums these days, especially for such notable artists, but the main difference between those tribute albums and Hillgrass Bluebilly's "Hiram & Huddie" tribute is the artists chosen to participate. Basically, this particular collection of Hank Williams and Leadbelly songs has been performed and recorded by the who's who of today's roots music crop, including the best blues, alt-country, roots rock, Americana, and folk punk bands and singer/songwriters. Some of those artists are Possessed by Paul James, C.W. Stoneking, Scott H. Biram, Bob Log III, Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, Tom VandenAvond, Soda, and Jawbone.Why is the album titled "Hiram & Huddie"? Well, that's quite simple, really. The proper name given to Hank Williams in its entirety was Hiram King Williams, while Leadbelly's birth name was Huddie William Ledbetter. And though these two individuals came from very different social, ethnic and artistic backgrounds, they both became extremely valuable presences in music history, to say the least. It's as the cover art of the "Hiram & Huddie" tribute album suggests -- the artists existed on different sides of the tracks, as it were.On the Hiram disc, designated as Vol. 1, the songs that stand out most are "Lost Highway" by Scott H. Biram, "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive" by C.W. Stoneking, "Ramblin' Man" by Soda, and "Settin' the Woods on Fire" by Bob Log III. As far as the Huddie disc, Vol. 2, the standout songs are hands down "Rock Island Line" by Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, "The Gallows Pole" by William Elliot Whitmore, "Ha, Ha, This Way" by Tom VandenAvond, and "Bottle Up and Go" by Jawbone. But the two tracks that really steal the show on both discs are by the same artist, Jon Konrad Wert, otherwise known as Possessed by Paul James, whose versions of "On the Banks of the Old Pontchartrain" and "Bourgeois Blues."

Born in a log cabin on September 17, 1923, Hiram King Williams (or Hank Williams, Sr.) spent the start of his life in Mount Olive, Alabama. After Williams' father was hospitalized for paralysis caused by brain aneurysm, his mother raised he and his sister, supporting them as best she could throughout the Great Depression. As a teenager Williams was sent to live with relatives. His aunt taught him to play guitar, while his cousin secretly taught him to drink whiskey. Obviously he took to both. But he knew, even at a young age, that he wanted to be a singer/songwriter. So he played guitar and sang on the steps outside of the WSFA radio station, whose producers quickly noticed his talented and occasionally invited him inside to play on the air. Around that time, he started his band the Drifting Cowboys. In 1941, as America entered World War II struggle, most of Williams' bandmates were drafted, leaving him to deal with a revolving door of replacement players. At that point he went the solo artist route, writing, playing and performing as Hank Williams, only working with the Drifting Cowboys on and off until they quit for good due to Williams' worsening alcoholism, complaining that he drank more than the gigs paid. After two marriages, a couple of children, eleven number one hit songs, and a small handful of family members that followed in his footsteps, Hank Williams did more in his twenty-nine years than most do in an entire lifetime. He died January 1, 1953 in Oak Hill, West Virginia.

Even though his life was a short one, finding his grave at the early age of twenty-nine, and even though he couldn't read or write music to any useful degree, Hank Williams, Sr. left behind some of the most important and memorable country classics of all. The Pulitzer Prize Board said it best when they awarded Williams a posthumous tribute, offering praise that told of his "...craftsmanship as a songwriter who expressed universal feelings with poignant simplicity and played a pivotal role in transforming country music into a major musical and cultural force in American life." And had it not been for the birth defect that caused Williams the lifelong pain which led to his abuse of alcohol and drugs, ending his life so prematurely...well, we can only imagine how many more amazing things he may have done as a singer/songwriter and just how much further he might have taken country music.

Huddie William Ledbetter, better known as Leadbelly (or Lead Belly), was born sometime in January 1888 (some accounts claim it was January 23, 1889, however) on the Jeter Plantation near Mooringsport, Louisiana. Though they had lived together for several years, Huddie's parents, Sallie Brown and Wesley Ledbetter didn't officially marry until about a month after his birth. At five years of age, the Ledbetter family relocated to Bowie County, Texas. As a teenager, probably at fifteen or sixteen, Leadbelly was already a talented musician and singer, often performing in St. Paul's Bottoms of Shreveport, a seedy red-light district. But it wasn't until he was exposed to the musical influences of Shreveport's Fannin Street, a row of brothels and saloons, that he began to develop his own original style. Despite his talent with the guitar, Leadbelly's first instrument was an accordion given to him by his uncle. Already married in his late teens, Leadbelly was well on his way toward living a normal workaday life; that is, until he left home in his early twenties to find work as a guitarist. More commonly, though, he worked as a laborer. And though he played around at different venues, sometimes sharing the stage with the likes of Blind Lemmon Jefferson, it wasn't until his third prison sentence for attempted homicide (he knifed a white man in a fight) that his talents as a singer/songwriter were discovered by John Lomax. Wanting out of prison, Leadbelly pleaded to John Lomax that he record a song he had written and play it for the governor as an appeal. The song written as petition for his release was the other side of a record with one of his most popular songs later on "Goodnight Irene." Soon after, he was released, though there is still some debate on whether or not the song sent to the governor had anything to do with it. It wasn't the first time that music had helped him get released from prison, as he as incarcerated in Sugar Land near Houston, Texas, for killing a relative in a fight over a woman. While there he composed a song for the governor as a petition for his release, appealing to his strong religious beliefs. Despite write-ups in Time Magazine and other popular press rags, Leadbelly achieved a fair level of fame, but fortune, sadly, was not to follow. He struggled financially for almost all of his career, earning far more money from touring than from record sales. Leadbelly died December 6, 1949 in New York City.Leadbelly has lived on through the years in his recordings, some of them through Library of Congress and Smithsonian Folkways, re-discovered by generation after generation, and appreciated as the masterful and innovative songsmith he truly was.According to Keith at Hillgrass Bluebilly Records, the label is planning a Johnny Cash tribute for next year. That is one that I am very much looking forward to. I would venture a guess that many others would be excited about that as well. And all I can say to the folks at Hillgrass Bluebilly, otherwise referred to as the Dirtyfoot Family, is, "Bravo"...and, "keep up the good work."

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Boston Blues on Hank Sr. & Lead Belly

The Boston Blues Society reviews Hiram & Huddie vol. 1 & 2
Author: Elliott Morehardt
Original Link: http://www.bostonblues.com/features.php?key=cdHuddle-Hillbilly
Dec. 2010

This isn’t the typical throw-away compilation you’ll find in the two-dollar bins of your local CD outlet. Four years in the making, this Hillgrass Bluebilly recording brings together some of the best young talent to pay homage to the masters Hank Williams Sr. and Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter. The Hiram and Huddie double tribute CD brings true authenticity, while feeling like a trip down memory lane via a Twilight Zone episode of Hee Haw! The vast archives of Hank and Huddie have provided some scratchy vinyl stimulus to these bluebilly/punkabilly/psychobilly musicians who seem hell-bent on raising those legendary spirits from the ground and giving us renewed faith in real American music. You may have to go to a back-alley club, vintage hot-rod meet, or some other nostalgia event to hear them, but that’s where you’ll find these bands that are so heavily influenced by great American traditional music.

The first CD contains covers of Hank Williams’ tunes and starts off with the classic, “Ponchartrain,” done beautifully by Possessed by Paul James. The next tracks, “Lost Highway” by Scott Biram and “Ramblin Man” by Soda, show off some outstanding vintage-style production. “Mother is Gone” by William Elliott Whitmore has enough depth to make the most hardened soul shed a tear. Another gem is “Howlin at the Moon” by Truckstop Honeymoon, adding some talented comic relief. The last tune of the Hank tribute, “Settin the Woods on Fire” by Bob Log III, brings us right back into the twilight zone with some cool Beefhart-esque timing.
Leadbelly gets into my gut about as deep as deep blues go, and there are some real treasures among this 2nd CD. Every band does their own unique tribute, not by copying the master, but delivering their own inspired vision. “Gallis Pole” by Willam Elliott Whitmore is in the true story style Leadbelly would be proud of. “In New Orleans” by C.W. Stoneking reminds us just how beautiful those lyrics are. “Bourgeois Blues (Town)” by Possessed by Paul James, is a heartfelt and angry ode to racism, as relevant as ever. “Goodnight Irene” by Wayne “The Train” Hancock still haunts us with some superbly tight vocals and instrumentals. A dose of psychobilly is in order with “Bottle Up and Go” by Jawbone, while Soda performs a dark gothic, industrial-tinged rendition of “Old Riley” guaranteed to give one a few chills. The CD ends with a super clean and fast production of “Pick a Bail of Cotton” by Flathead, leaving you ready to get on the Ol’ Ponchatrain with Hank all over again!

Watch for the Hillgrass Bluebilly folks to do this all again with a tribute to Johnny Cash and R.L. Burnside coming up in 2011!