Straight, no chaser. That’s what we get from Watermelon Slim here. Bill Holman has been a most impressive presence since Fred Litwin’s NorthernBlues Records introduced him all those years ago. Litwin knows a good thing and has stuck with him ever since. He is the only artist on the label now. His past has always been something of a mystery but since his introduction he has released albums with a working band, duo albums and albums with carefully selected accompanists. Originally from Norman, Oklahoma, he has resided for years in Clarksdale MS, occasionally guesting on sessions, including a couple for Sunday Wilde. He went back to Oklahoma for these shows recorded a couple of years ago with just his National Steel and his harps. You’ll be as amazed as I was at the inventiveness of his playing and the quality of his vocals. He has several new songs and a nice number of old ones. He clearly has fond memories of his days as a truck driver: “Blue Freightliner”, the first single “Scalemaster Blues”, “300 Miles” and “Truck Driving Songs” are standouts. His always interesting takes on traditional songs are represented by the medley of “Smokestack Lightning/Two Trains Running”, “Frisco Line”, “John Henry”, “61 Highway Blues” and his masterpiece from Church of the Blues, “Holler #4”. “Jimmy Bell” is one he found on an old Folkways recording by Cat Iron. Originally on The Wheel Man, this vocal with harmonica sounds even better here. “Northern Blues” is his tale of suffering through winter, from his Winnipeg album Golden Boy. Other highlights are his “The Last Blues”, a brutally honest look at his mortality and “Oklahoma Blues”, a very early song of his. The highlights continue with “Let It Be in Memphis”, a tribute to a blues centre in the past and the future. We cannot experience live blues currently but we can do so virtually with one of the finest bluesmen around. His web site is www.watermelonslim.com. 

May 2020 - Top Blues
April 2020 - Sonny del Rio