Blind Lemon Pledge review…May 16, 2018….

BLIND LEMON PLEDGE

EVANGELINE

OFEH RECORDS

BULEY’S FARM–JENNIE BELL–BRIMSTONE JOE–MIDNIGHT ASSIGNATION–GO JUMP THE WILLIE–THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE–HAM AND EGGS–HOW CAN I STILL LOVE YOU–YOU HAD ME AT GOODBYE–EVANGELINE

Blind Lemon Pledge is the alter-ego of James Byfield, who took this nickname from one of his blues heroes, Blind Lemon Jefferson.  His latest set is ten original cuts of blues, roots, and a touch of jazz, in which each and every cut is totally different.  The title is “Evangeline,” and it just keeps on gettin’ better when you realize that Blind Lemon Pledge plays all the instruments and handles all the vocals!

Blind Lemon Pledge, as did many of us, found his musical calling at a young age, and it didn’t hurt that he grew up in the San Fran Bay Area, and soon became a part of that vibrant scene.  Finding more intrigue with the blues of the pre-WWII Delta masters, (thus his nickname’s sake!), but listened to just about anything played on the radio.  As such, these ten cuts could each, individually, stand on their own merits.  Now it’s time for us to shut up, and get on with the gettin’ on….

Remember the chilling opening to the Coen Brothers,’ “O Brother,” with the chain-gang rendition of “Po’ Lazarus?”  Well, Blind Lemon does ’em one better—he backs himself on cigar-box guitar, and layers the backing chorus, proclaiming, “I ain’t stayin’ down on Buley’s Farm” no more!  Next up is a more traditional folk song, our hero “catchin’ that 6:03 to New Orleans,” to make his mark in the music world, while his lover, “Jennie Lee” is the one he leaves behind.  And, if you need a fix to get yo’ kicks down on Canal Street, just listen for that “cat blowin’ blues,” ol’ “Mr. Hi De Ho, Brimstone Joe!”  Linguistic drawbacks might keep our hero from gettin’ it on with a pretty senorita, until he begins speaking that universal “Language Of Love!  Blind Lemon uses a Latin, merengue’ flavored arrangement here, too, for authenticity.  “Ham And Eggs and a flapjack stack” strikes a jazzy groove, and ol’ Blind Lemon brings the whole thing full-circle as he returns to the Delta to close the set, with the haunting tale of lost love, the title cut, “Evangeline.”

Speaking of a haunting tale, our favorite takes place at a very familiar address.  Down we go to where “the 61 ‘cross the 49,” and everybody knows the deal that went down there.  Blind Lemon uses rapid-fire slide leads (kinda like Duane’s in “One Way Out”), to proclaim that “the Devil is my only friend,” thanks to that fateful “Midnight Assignation.”

If you are a friend or a follower of James Byfield on Facebook, you already know he is as unique an individual as he is an artist.  Grab your porkpie hat or your red fedora with the skinny black tie, and let’s all go down to the Crossroads and help Blind Lemon Pledge find the elusive “Evangeline!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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