The Essence of Texas Blues
Texas blues differs from blues elsewhere. There's a laconic aspect to a Texas bluesman's performance. It may be a cliche to draw a comparison with the state's wide open spaces, and featureless countryside but we'll yield to temptation. Texas blues lyrics waste as little time with ornament as the music - they're refined to their essence. Both Frankie Lee Sims and Mercy Dee Walton had short lives but in the time they had, each epitomised the traditions in which they worked. There's a particular atmosphere to a Frankie Lee Sims record, minimal rhythm guitar, stark backing and a voice similar in timbre to Sonny Terry. His lyrics are similarly plain but, like Long Gone, put fresh vigor into traditional songs. Not sophisticated but everything gels in a way that is ultimately attractive. And there's an honesty that transcends other considerations. -------------------------------- Mercy Dee Walton was influenced by players he saw in his hometown of Waco and in Dallas. At the age of thirteen he became interested in the pianists who played for weekend-long 'ten-cent house parties'. There was Son Brewster, Pinetop Shorty and 'Big Hand' Joe Thomas. But he modeled himself most closely on Delois Maxey. At 23 he moved to California to work on farms in the San Joaquin Valley, supplementing his pay by performing. Small indy record labels proliferated in the years after the war but it wasn't until 1949 that he cut four sides with Spire Records - his two singles represented the label's total output. Lonesome Cabin Blues was an instant success, entering Billboard's R&B chart in November 1949. Over the years, it would become a blues standard but no one improved on Mercy Dee's version. G.I. Fever was four years out of date when it was issued but Mercy Dee's scat phrasing distinguished it. He continued to make fine recordings - being active until the mid-1950s - but his career faltered. A late recording in 1961 showed he had lost none of his talent.
Label: JSP Records
Release Date: 08/25/09
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