Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

WATERMELON SLIM & THE WORKERS

BULL GOOSE ROOSTER

2014-02-16

Harmonica is not usually the first note you hear on most blues discs. On the other hand, Bill Homans aka Watermelon Slim isn't your ordinary blues man. In addition to his skills on the harmonica he sings and plays a mean lap slide guitar and dobro. Coupled with the unique perspective he gained working as everything from a truck driver, to a forklift operator, saw mill operator, firewood salesman, collection agent, funeral officiator and occasional crook, which he uses to inform his mostly self-penned lyrics, his talents result in something other than the "same old blues." While others are content to travel the well worn paths where evil women and bad whisky are available in equal measure, Slim takes the side roads and looks to raise some Cain by extolling the virtues of whistleblowers as he does in the liner notes or by adding a blues twist to folk classics like Woody Guthrie's "Vigilante Man". Elsewhere, on "A Wrench In the Machine" and "The Foreign Policy Blues", he advocates protesting and gumming things up rather than going with the flow but finds time to regret some of his actions on "Prison Walls". His long stints as a truck driver get a visit on "Blue Freightliner" and "Trucking Class" which scrub any romance for the road with a hard dose of the lonely reality of the daily grind and its impact on the family. Occasionally, he rejoins the blues mainstream to good effect with raucous covers of the instrumental showcase "The Wobble" and the well travelled duo of "I'm a King Bee" and "Baby Scratch My Back". Two a cappella numbers, "Take My Mother Home" and "Northwest Passage" may test the patience of traditional blues fans but these steps too far are easily forgiven when everything else here is such a great detour from the normal bill of fare. Smitty

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

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