vrijdag 7 juli 2017

Watermelon Slim & The Truckers live. Q-Bus Leiden, 5 July 2017

Bluesnight in the Q-Bus in Leiden and a lot of people defied the nice summer evening to sit together in a hot Q-Bus emulating a southern jukejoint, only missing it by about 10 degrees Celsius. Now Watermelon Slim is a blueshero that I was totally unfamiliar with, but as it had been a while that I saw a blues show, I thought to go back to my old hometown and submerge.

This was exactly the right decision to make as it was blues we got in several guises. The impression that "the blues" is an alternative kind of faith was impressed upon the audience several times. Watermelon Slim talks a lot during the show while tuning his "cheap Chinese guitar" or otherwise turning the talk into a kind of sermon where the audience is more or less invited to roar in accordance, in place of the amen at a regular service. So let's see if president Trump is no longer president in February next year. I seriously doubt it by now and we may be stuck with the man for another 7 and a half year.

Watermelon Slim was born as Bill Homans in 1949 and is from Tulsa, Oklahoma although he now lives in Clarksdale, Mississippi, crossroads and all. After a life that led him from a tour in Vietnam to an anti-war veteran organisation, college degrees, journalism and truckdriving, he began his musical career in earnest in his 50th year and is a recording artist since 1999. A career that led to several awards and nominations in the blues category through the years in more than one country. In other words the lack of foreknowledge was totally of my own making.

With a face showing hardship and characteristically no dentures, Homans does his thing, professionally supported by a bass player and drummer and a much younger guitarist who regularly had to find his way through some of the songs, apparently not familiar (yet) with all the songs -and play a great solo in a song where he was obviously looking for what chords the others were playing. Now following their leadman is not always easy as he tends to go off and not always arrives where it is expected. Creating the more atmosphere and lived through experience because of it.

Alternating between a harmonica and, mostly, the dobro guitar, Watermelon Slim played some blistering solos during his songs. I came to learn that there's only one country in the world that produces dobro capo's and that there are two companies in that country. I'd personally never seen one before. With the guitar in front of him lying on its flight case harsh sound were pulled out of it, like musical allegories for the harsh sides of life in general and personal hardships in particular.

The show came to an end with a sad story of a girl who died at the age of 22, the daughter of a musician called Ronnie Mack. Now I can only find one Ronnie Mack, who died in 1963. That aside, it was a beautiful jazzy blues cover showing how well this band can really play together, including a fantastic solo from guitarist Jake. I was astounded by what all of a sudden and out of nowhere came from his Telecaster, as I was by the subtlety The Truckers were also capable of. There are more sides to Watermelon Slim & The Truckers than I had thought.

In short, it was the right decision to go deep into the blues on this Wednesday night.

(All photo's by) Wo.

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