Big Walker review Sepember 9, 2012…

BIG WALKER

ROOT WALKING

AMERICAN BLUES AND ROOTS

BWK RECORDS  BWK 2

IT’S HARD–RAISE A RUCKUS–WILD BLACK BILL–RUN NIGRI RUN–THE HYPOCRITE BLUES–CAN’T TAKE NO TRAIN–MIDNIGHT SPECIAL–YOU GOT A HOME IN THAT ROCK–PAPA GUEDE–DEVIL’S CLOTH–THIRTEENTH FULL MOON–SLAVE (PLUS HIDDEN TRACK)

 

Derrick “Big” Walker has played the blues in San Francisco in the Sixties with the likes of Lowell Fulson and Mike Bloomfield, and for his latest release, “Root Walking,” he has taken the blues back to its very origins, with poems that date back to the 1700’s ans 1800’s that were handed down thru the generations and put them to music.  Most of the subjects deal with the oppression that blacks who were sold into slavery have had to endure throughout history, using music as a way to heal the wounds.  And, Walker mixes these poems with his own originals to create twelve tracks that make for quite an interesting history lesson.

 

Walker’s vocal delivery is reminiscent of the traveling troubadours that hopped freight trains and spread the word of the blues from town to town.  The set kicks off with “It’s Hard,” a midtempo look at life’s daily struggles.  There are two songs that deal with runaway slaves.  “Wild Black Bill” was a bad man who “killed the Boss and knocked down the hoss,” while “Run Nigri Run” is a country-blues number about a slave who, when ‘the sheriff shot, that Nigri ran faster!”  Walker, who’s a big Leadbelly fan, recounts “Midnight Special” herein, with lyrics not generally heard in other more “mainstream” versions of this song, keeping to Leadbelly’s original intent.  There are two “spirituals” of sorts, also.  “You Got A Home In That Rock’ traces Lazarus’ path to Heaven, and the rich man’s road to Hell.  And, we are warned not to let our thoughts and actions help to weave “The Devil’s Cloth.’

 

Our favorites were easy.  “Thirteenth full Moon” is a 21ST Century revamping of “Born Under A Bad Sign,” while the set closes with the poignant, brooding, “Slave.”  It is an account of slave trading from Africa into the New World in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries and the rampant oppression that followed.  It clocks in at about five minutes, and the other four minutes are a “hidden” track that is pure, unabashed joy.  “She Hoodooed Me’ is a swingin’ tale of a voodoo woman with more mojos, jujus, and goofer dust than you can shake a black cat bone at.  Walker plays a wailin’ sax on this one, with a vocal that sounds like a cross between Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Louis Jordan!

 

Big Walker takes a storyteller’s view of life’s ups and downs and sets it all to music, and “Root Walking” is a highly entertaining listen!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

 

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