THE MIKE ELDRED TRIO
GREAT WESTERN RECORDING COMPANY GWRC 001
HUNDER DOLLAR BILL–PAPA LEGBA–SOMEBODY BEEN RUNNIN–RUN DEVIL RUN–ROADSIDE SHRINE–BESS–BLACK ANNIE–HOODOO MAN–SUGAR SHAKE–KILL MY WOMAN–BAPTIST TOWN–CAN’T BUY ME LOVE–YOU’RE ALWAYS THERE
While on a road trip with his daughter thru the South, bluesman Mike Eldred was searching for the grave of Robert Johnson near Greenwood, MS, and sought the place where that last deal went down. Surrounded by the myths and truths that go along with that region, his creative juices began to flow, and the result is “Baptist Town,” a collection of originals and one cover that take the listener along for that journey where characters like Black Annie and the Hoodoo Man and their ghosts are everywhere.
This set was recorded at 706 Union in Memphis, at the legendary Sun Studios. Mike recalls in the liner notes that “Howlin’ Wolf stood here,” and that mystical vibe permeates these grooves. Mike is on guitar and vocals, with one-half of The Blasters on rhythm—John Bazz on bass, and Jerry Angel on drums.
This set covers everything fans expect from the blues. There’s the constant pull of good vs. evil, illicit love, lust, greed, and murder. There are also samples of what really puts the “blue” in the blues—poverty, racism, and hate. This becomes a great history lesson about Baptist Town, which still exists today, and is the alleged place where that last fair deal went down.
Starting off is the freight-train boogie of “Hunder Dollar Bill,” and its tale of “gittin’ lit up with plenty of money and a night to kill.” “Somebody Been Runnin” is done field-holler style, with hand claps and foot stomps, to convey the moral lesson that “you can’t run from the dealings that you made.” “Bess” is a gospel-styled tribute to Bessie Smith, with David Hidalgo on accordion and backing vocals. John Mayer adds lap steel on the quiet, even pastoral, story of memories noted only by a “Roadside Shrine.” The set closes with a unique, stripped-down version of The Beatles’ “Can’t Buy Me Love,” and then a flat-out Sunday morning plea for salvation, as we all “go to church” on “Lord, You’re Always There.”
Our favorite was the title cut. Robert Cray adds guitar on the poignant tale of “Baptist Town,” a dead-end place where “The Devil made a home at the corner of Anger and Fear.”
The blues is as much about one’s favorite myths as well as the true stories of hard times and good times. The Mike Eldred Trio captured it all thru the grooves of “Baptist Town.” Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.