Sunday, December 02, 2012

Arthur Williams - Midnight Blue

Arthur Williams, a St. Louis resident today, has roots growing up under Sonny Boy Williamson down south and played with Frank Frost. In fact, Williams was the harmonica player on some of Frost’s recordings that Scotty Moore produced for Jewel in the sixties. On his album, Midnight Blue (Rooster Blues) he is joined by a terrific pianist, Bob Lohr, who also produced the album. Also on the session is bassist Charles “Nephew” Davis, guitarist Jesse Hoggard and the great Willie “Big Eyes” Smith on drums. 

Williams is heard performing some well known blues numbers (some retitled like Clarksdale Train, a retitled rendition of Elmore James’ Sunnyland Train). His energetic, raspy vocals are quite at home on Muddy Waters’ Trouble No More, Jimmy Reed’s Down in Virginia and Sonny Boy Williamson’s Don’t Start Me To Talking

The title track is a nice slow instrumental to showcase his direct appealing harp playing which is prominently featured throughout. The band plays a bit raw. If the music lacks subtlety, it makes up for it in spirit. The last number, ‘67 Cadillac is an interesting experiment as producer Lohr has sampled a bit of the late Doc Terry talking, and provided some programmed drums for an interesting experiment which can be skipped since it is the last track. A nicely put together collection of performances that certainly will get any blues party popping.

This review appeared originally in the the November 2001 DC Blues Calendar and the March/April Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 256). I have made minor stylistic changes. I believe I received a review copy from the record label. This may be hard to find but worth the effort.  Here is Arthur Williams and young bluesman, Marquise Knox.

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