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Thursday, January 03, 2013

Singing in 2013: Motherless Child Blues


For about six New Year’s Eves now Steve and I have met up to improvise rough 'barrelhouse' piano and vocal jazz, blues and standards at Maggi Williams’ legendary parties upon the family’s increasingly out of tune piano (I can’t use my blues harps with this machine). Steve was the keyboard player and founder member of the Liverpool band The High Five in the 1980s and his latest band is gigging under the name Cat Sundies. We meet in pubs throughout the year, casually, and discuss the set, but otherwise it’s made up as we go. This song, Steve’s piano work and my rendition of lyrics lifted from the 1931 Barbecue Bob classic ‘Motherless Child’. It was somewhat later that usual, drink had been taken, and friends can be heard uttering ‘Steve’s turned up, so Robert’s happy,’ and ‘They’re reunited!’ as they take leave of the party! I did some jazz scatting and vocalese after this, prompted by Ian Perry’s Christmas present, a Kurt Elling CD. No trace of that influence here; a straight Joe Turnerish blues shout above the noise of the party.

Happy New Year Steve, Happy New Year everyone!


As I put it in Twenieth Century Blues 53 (Midnight Ride 2, Smokestack Lightning 2, Unwritings 7): 'This romance surrounds you, this late century blues in an unplayable pack of quotations in quotes; crude effects play oddments’ tricks. They’ve got another bill, poisons of crimes, looking from musician to musician, transposing keys: a guerrilla tactic somebody’s aching fingers will track and hammer to death, night after day after night.'


This is rather different from my performance of 'Smokestack Lightning' here.