Wednesday, July 21, 2010

ROW: Trainreck - Train Keeps a’ Rollin (self-released)

Easily “the discovery” for me at the 2009 Deep Blues Festival, KM Williams has been doing his thing longer than most of the 70-odd other acts on the schedule. His repertoire ropes in a fair chunk of the idiom’s history from Blind Willie Johnson, Son House and Fred McDowell to originals influenced by deceased Hill Country doyens like R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough. His partner for the past seven years and change is one Washboard Jackson. They couldn’t be more different in appearance or stage demeanor: Williams dressed in a crisply-pressed Sunday suit, Stetson and spats; Jackson opting for a frizzy, receding mullet, hockey jersey and cargo shorts. The latter often pockets his sticks, preferring to attack his cymbals, snare and tom with fingers and palms in a wild man, almost-Simian frenzy. Williams builds a complementary intensity through more measured means, playing lo-fi slide on either three-string cigar box or arch-top guitar and singing in a resonant near-baritone. Together, they turn the well-trampled territory of two-man juke blues into freshly-tilled soil, sounding somewhat akin to Satan and Adam, but with even less polish. This disc is just one of a dozen or so that Williams carries with him for sale from a suitcase and a fair representation of what I heard. Fortunately, it looks like most of that catalog (much of it on CDRs) is available through CdBaby where audio samples can also be found. I strongly advise all interested parties to check them out. [Originally published 7/20/09]

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