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Big Bad Smitty-Unwired RootsBig Bad Smitty-Unwired Roots

Big Bad Smitty John Henry Smith Vocals and Guitar
Arthur Williams - Harmonica
Tom Hall - National Steel Guitar

The liner on this compact disc says it was recorded at Sheldon Hall in January of 2004. When I closed my eyes and started listening, I was not in Sheldon Hall. I was someplace down Chouteau Avenue, sitting in a discarded kitchen chair, eating chicken and ribs from the Servian Tomboy. Or maybe I was across the street under the shade tree by Atlas Hardware passing time and a bottle in a bag! This is the Blues I was hearing. With Smitty weaving the tales and Arthur and Tom providing the ride, they were headed for the East Side.

Smitty takes the somewhat familiar stories in recognizable places and brings them to a personal intimacy. Whether he is singing "bout some dang woman", a place to be go to or to "get the hell out of", or "just the way it is!", you know he is speaking first person. Mirroring personal struggles in his own life, he is able to convince you that he has been there! Raw or down to earth, you choose! His vocals reflect it all.

Arthur Williams has been playing the harp and Saint Louis for many years. He brings Delta and Urban Blues styles together and then separates them at will. Equally skillful at either, he heats it up for the highs and gives you "like a lowdown shaky chill" on the lows! Wow! Very accomplished musician with a soulful interpretation of his instrument!

Tom Hall is described by some an American troubadour. I think Neil Diamond is a troubadour but he's no Tom Hall. I think of Tom Hall more as a traveling Blues Minstrel. Some people may think it's a crock, but I knew Tom Hall when he ran away from the Orphanage to join the Circus. I don't think troubadours even go to the Circus. Never mind, that was along time ago. Tom Hall has been honing his craft here in Saint Louis since the mid-1970s. Possessing the ability to be accomplished in many styles, his heart is in the Delta. This CD is a good example of what is in the man!

The combination of these three old Blues Dogs on stage and somebody having it together enough to record on something other than a 1 channel mono is a gift for us all. They definitely "slung what they brung!"

Pretty much liked all the tracks. Prove me wrong. You don't have to play it real loud on the dialogue tracks but you should give them a good listen, too.

Just my view from the Left Coast,

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