November 14, 2010

If I die, please don't bury my soul...

Synchronicity never fails to blow me away.   Through my exploration of Dex Romweber's music, I just yesterday found a new favorite song--  Last Kind Word Blues, which Dex and his sister Sara recorded with Jack White for release through Third Man Records in 2009.  I had picked up the 7" single when I was at TMR in September and listened to it as soon as I got home, but didn't rip and burn it onto a cd for the car until this weekend.  Much as I enjoy listening to vinyl at home, in the car is where music really sinks into my head.   So, anyway, after a couple of listens, this song had its hooks into me.

"If I die, please don't bury my soul... just leave me out and let the buzzards come and eat me whole" That line was the second of the hooks. The first is the crazy contrast of the vocals. Who on earth would expect Dex's bourbon-soaked croon to work with Jack's manic wail? But it does work, to electrifying effect. Throw in some filthy guitar work and smooth piano and you've got one of the quirkiest blues covers going.

According to the TMR website, the original artist is one Geechie Wiley.  I googled the song last night just to find the lyrics, but didn't go any further than that.  So today, I'm sitting at lunch, reading Delta Blues: The Life and Times of the Mississippi Masters Who Revolutionized American Music, and I turn the page and find a chapter headed "let the buzzards eat me whole" (there's that synchronicity).  Sure enough, it contained what little biography there is for Geechie.  One of the few female blues artists of note, she apparently only recorded six songs and left not much more of herself behind.  Damned shame, that, as it sounds as if she had the potential to be on a par with any of the known blues men.

Fortunately, she left a bit of her soul with us before she went.

November 8, 2010

Another jackpot

Found this little beauty out in the woods yesterday.  Same place where I wandered a few weeks ago, but in a different area, away from the junk piles and remnants of old human habitations.  This was deeper in the woods along a little-used, partially overgrown trail, sitting on a moss-covered log as if someone had left it there just for me...

Raccoon.  It's missing it's right incisor and one of the front teeth on that side keeps slipping out, but aside from that it's in perfect condition. 

Am I greedy for snatching it up and slipping it in my pocket, rather than leaving it there the way the person before me did?  I'm not much of a collector, but this is definitely the sort of thing I covet.  

November 6, 2010

Dex after midnight

Had a very cool time last night/this morning in Baltimore.  Drove up to see the Dex Romweber Duo at Area 405 (the video above is from a 2009 show, not last night/morning), which is an art gallery/space/whatever set in a block of otherwise entirely empty buildings in one of the seediest neighborhoods in town. The show was organized (I use that word quite loosely) as a "festival" with 6-8 bands. I should have grabbed a poster as I left for informational purposes, as I'd never heard of any of the others playing. It was way under-promoted--  I'd found out about it through the DRD site, there was no mention of it on the Area 405 website, and I spoke to another person there who said they'd only heard about it that day. Dex's tour manager had told me they'd be going on around 10:30, then that changed to 11:30, and then when I got there, things had been delayed to the extent that no one knew when Dex and Sara would be on. At the most crowded point, there were probably 100 or so people hanging around in the two rooms set up for the alternating acts. Could have been more, but I've never been good at estimating crowds.

By the time DRD was finally on at 2:00am (!), there were two, maybe three, dozen of us die-hards still around, including the bartenders and other staff. The folks who had left just have no clue at all of what they missed. Dex and Sara were at the same time more polished and yet more raw than any other band there that night. How that man gets the sounds he does out of a guitar and amp that look like they're about to fall apart is beyond me. No pedals, no gizmos, nothing but fingers and strings. And Sara is just spot-on. I love to watch her, she's not a powerhouse drummer like, say, Poni from The Ettes, she's much more subtle.  And, like Dex, she has the ability to create a surprising variety of sound out of the most minimal of kits.  The most unusual, and charming, thing that happened was when Sara took a break and Dex played a few solo numbers. At one point, can't recall which song it preceded, he commented on the size of the crowd, then hopped down off the stage and ran around giving us hugs. Obviously done in a joking manner, but still very endearing

He's an interesting guy, Dex. I was watching him during the earlier acts-- In his black pants, white shirt and black jacket, wandering around or sitting off by himself, he was just on another plane from the rest of the blue-jeans/flannel/leather crowd there. In his own world, almost. At one point when the line-up was getting all jumbled up, he was pacing around with his guitar strapped on, watching the band that was on while his fingers just sort of mindlessly worked the frets. It amazes me that he's not a star, and yet doesn't surprise me at all. I'm just damned glad I found out about him.