When David Honeyboy Edwards passed in 2011, with him went one of the last living links to the history of the blues. Born in Mississippi in 1915, he started out as a wandering guitarist, playing acoustic Delta Blues as passed down by the men who invented the genre. First recorded down south in 1942, he eventually settled in Chicago by the 1950's, and witnessed firsthand when the blues went electric, doing some solid sessions at the iconic Chess Studios. I'm Gonna Tell You Somethin' That I Know, would be one of his last performances, recorded when he was 95 years old, playing until the end of his days.
This live date was recorded on September 4, 2010 in Los Angeles, and has Honeyboy playing an electric guitar, rather than his usual acoustic. A separate DVD is included, capturing the complete performance on film. He is accompanied by guitarist/producer Jeff Dale, and his longtime manager Michael Frank is on harmonica on the first three tracks. These start off with the Howlin' Wolf standard "Ride with Me Tonight," and wind up with "Little Boy Blue, penned by another Delta musician, Robert Lockwood Jr.
Dale's band The South Woodlawners pick up the pace from "You're The One," the addition of bass and drums adding the driving Chicago backbeat to the mix. The longest number is the perennial "Goin' Down Slow," by St. Louis Jimmy; clocking in at over ten minutes, it develops into a greasy alley crawler, and ends with some friendly banter. Muddy Waters is represented by "Country Boy," performed in the classic Delta meets the Southside style. They rework "Catfish Blues," as a barroom shuffle, before going into the improvised "Apron Strings," where the vocal is barely audible, but the accompaniment remains lively. Honeyboy claims rights on "Sweet Home Chicago," though the original appears on the Robert Johnson sessions from 1936-37; but who are we to raise doubt. After all, Honeyboy is one of the few men who actually knew Johnson, and saw him play; which is a major privilege by any standard, and bolstered his legendary status as a genuine bluesman.
Musicians like Honeyboy Edwards should be treated like the historical treasures they were. Their music was a reflection of their times in the rough and tumble conditions of the segregated Deep South; and stands as a living testament to the resiliency of people who, in light of adverse situations and harsh realities, were able to create such an impressive and enduring art form. As Honeyboy stated: "The blues is nothing but a story... a true story, what people were doing... what they all went through. It's not just a song..."
Personnel: David Honeyboy Edwards: vocals, guitar; Jeff Dale: guitar; Michael Frank: harmonica (1, 2, 3); Darryl Lieberstein: bass; Geoff Mohan: harmonica; Clark Pardee: drums.
Ride With Me Tonight
Little Boy Blue
You're The One
Goin' Down Slow
Sweet Home Chicago
That's Alright (Bonus)