Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

Watermelon Slim & The Workers

The Wheel Man

2007-04-17

Bill Homans picked up the name “Watermelon Slim” during his tenure as an Oklahoma Watermelon farmer which is only one of the dozens of jobs he’s held over the years including stints as a truck driver, fork lift operator, saw-miller, firewood salesman, collection agent and street musician. Along the way he also managed to pick up two undergraduate degrees and a master’s degree and became a member of the genius IQ group, Mensa. So what does this have to do with the blues? Plenty as it turns out. While most bluesmen have a pretty limited set of experiences, which forces them into the “Baby done me wrong” and “The boss man is a jerk” school of writing, Slim’s storied history gives him a rich and varied base from which to craft his songs. His tales of hustlers making a living as preachers, Jimmy Bell, card sharks, Fast Eddie, and women who take charge, Truck Driving Mama, are welcome changes from the standard blues fare. Slim also works in a few tales about his own detours into truck driving, The Wheel Man, writing for a living, Newspaper Reporter, and into the “there goes the fingers” world of sawmill operators, Sawmill Holler. Politics find the way into the mix as well as he delivers a scathing indictment of the Washington politicians who have ignored the plight of the flooded out south, Black Water. Even when Slim turns to more standard fare, such as on the tale of a stripper girlfriend, Peaches, he reveals his broad range by resisting the easy cliché’s about the profession by noting that she’s no victim as she clears the isles “like a Mako Shark” Likewise, he turns a tale about a woman who drinks too much, Drinking and Driving, into a clever play on the many ads that discourage such activities. Musically, Slim and the Workers take on everything from Foghat style blues rock on the title track to harmonica and piano fueled shuffles, I’ve Got News, to street corner busker style acoustic blues, Jimmy Bell, to a cappella work songs, Sawmill Holler, to Chuck Berry style rockers, Rattlesnake, and down and dirty Chicago style blues, Got Love If You Want it. Overall, a terrific release that will likely land Slim a whole bunch of new fans. Smitty

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

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