Born in Boston, Bert Deivert has taken this passion for the blues to Sweden which he calls home and has just issued his tenth album Kid Man Blues (Hard Danger). This writer was not familiar with him but perusing the accompanying booklet I note that my friend Memphis Gold contributes two backing vocals among the twelve tracks and among the albums he has played on was Memphis Gold’s Gator Gonna Bitchu! Three of his earlier albums were collaborations with Eric Bibb and he also is among those who have adapted the mandolin in addition to guitar, acknowledging the influence of such early masters as Yank Rachell and Carl Martin.
Deivert’s skill with the mandolin is on display on most of this release which is my first exposure to his music. It is a varied collection of songs ranging from adaptations of R.L. Burnside’s North Mississippi Hill Country Blues to fingerpicking classics from Blind Boy Fuller and Blind Blake and the deep blues of Skip James and Son House and was recorded in Sweden, Thailand, Mississippi and Germany with a variety of folks assisting Bert. Augmented by backing vocals, R.L. Burnside’s Goin’ Down South, has a string band feel with violin in addition to Deivert’s mandolin 9and he doubles on lap steel guitar. Its followed by some rollicking piano by Willie Salomon for the barrelhouse flavored State Street Pimp, that comes from Carl Martin’s repertoire. Bill Abel adds guitar and the late Sam Carr played drums on Rob and Steal, a nice medium tempo blues recorded at Abel’s Mississippi studio with more hills country flavor. Sven Zetterberg’s nice harp on this was added later in Sweden.
Walter Davis’ Come Back Baby was recorded in Bangkok and this brooding blues originally recorded by Walter Davis has a definitely more modern, electric flavor with guitar from one Dulyasit “Pong” Srabua with some overdubbed mandolin added in the latter part of this performance. The title track was from Carl Martin and is about a younger man being a married woman’s kid man, and features some nice mandolin as well as fiddle and my buddy Memphis Gold is among those adding to the vocal here “if you let me be your kid man I’ll always treat you right.” For some reason, Deivert attributes Keep On Truckin’ to Blind Blake but I believe he meant Blind Boy Fuller, the great Piedmont blues artist of the thirties. A vocal duet with Tom Paley of the New Lost City Ramblers, it is a lively, raggy performance with lively picking from Paley and Deivert and one cannot ignore the resonator slide guitar of Frederick Karlsson here.
Deivert may not be as powerful a singer as Skip James or Son House but his renditions of James’ Cypress Grove and House’s Death Letter Blues, are quite moving. On Cypress Grove, the harp of Mats Qwarfordt helps provide the ethereal quality that James’ vocals and guitar provided. Death Letter Blues is a credible solo cover with rhythmic slide guitar and a solid vocal. Blind Blake’s Diddie Wah Diddie is done as a lively duet with guitarist Lasse Johansson and sports some wonderful mandola playing.
It is often said that blues has become an international music. Certainly the fine music here is evidence of that. Deivert himself notes that this recording was not meant to simply be a solo vehicle, “but, rather a showcase for this fine music that is being made all over the world, and great musicians who are not recognized by a larger audience.” Deivert’s Kid Man Blues is a delightful acoustic blues showcase that it was intended to be. This is being distributed through cdbaby.com and his website is www.deivert.com/blues.
I received my review copy from a publicist. Here are some videos of Bert performing.