WALKIN CANE MARK
TRYIN’ TO MAKE YOU UNDERSTAND :REMASTERED
ENABLE RECORDS 1001
SOMEBODY’S WALKING/SOMEBODY’S IN MY HOME–TRYIN’ TO MAKE YOU UNDERSTAND–ARIZONA WOMAN–ROCK AND ROLL RECORDS–ELLADA ELLADA–THAT’S HOW I GOT TO MEMPHIS–LET ME IN WHILE YOU CAN–(I’M) A FREIGHT TRAIN–TAKE ME BACK TO BERGEN–THE DEVIL’S AT MY DOOR(2015 VERSION)–OCEAN FULL OF WOMEN–EDDIE’S BOOGIE
Talk about a sho’ nuff impressive resume’—Walkin’ Cane Mark got his nickname from Willie Dixon, after an injury left Mark needing the stick to get around. He’s written songs with Junior Wells, and honed his showmanship with a little help from Chico Chism and Snooky Pryor. He’s put it all together on his debut album, “Tryin’ To Make You Understand: Remastered,” for Enable Records. It’s eleven shots of originals and covers that show the good-time spirit of Mark, who’s on vocals and harp throughout.
Mark was always a fan of Howlin’ Wolf, and his gravelly, burnished baritone fits the bill perfectly. Joining in on the fun are Kirk Hawley on guitar and mandolin, Brenden McBride and Gordon Lynde, Jr., on bass, and John Rumbaugh on drums. They capture that Chester Arthur Burnett vibe with the leadoff drone of “Somebody’s Walking/Somebody’s In My Home,” while the more traditional “Ellada Ellada” is written as a tribute to his beautiful Russian wife who vowed to follow Mark wherever life took them.
Mark has a cool way with a story, too. Check out the chugging boogie of the swagger-filled “(I’m) A Freight Train,” and the Chicago blues of “Ocean Full Of Women,” both of which extoll the virtues of women of all types, and Mark’s vow to “lay tracks” with all of ’em! He channels his inner Son House on the brooding tale of man’s eternal temptations, “It’s hard to be a good man when the Devil’s At Your Door!”
We had two favorites, too. A song from Chico Chism is “Arizona Woman,” and features sweet harp and guitar call-and-response from Mark and Kirk Hawley. And, written with Junior Wells, is Mark’s struttin’, uptown funk of a man “Tryin’ To Make You Understand I’m in love with your sister, so find yourself another man!”
Walkin’ Cane Mark epitomizes the good times and hard times of being a bluesman, but we’d be willing to bet he wouldn’t trade it for anything. One listen to “Tryin’ To Make You Understand; Remastered” and you’ll know just what we mean! Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.