For longtime fans of the blues, Watermelon Slim is a pleasant find. Nominated in 2009 for B.B. King Entertainer of the Year, Bill â€œWatermelon Slimâ€ Homans, originally from Boston, has led the kind of storied life that imbues his music with the feeling of real mojo.
Having soaked up the sound of John Lee Hooker from one of his familyâ€™s housekeepers while living North Carolina, Homans learned to play slide guitar using a Zippo lighter when he was laid up in a hospital bed during the Vietnam War. His day jobs have included forklift operator, trucker, sawmiller, collections agent, and watermelon farmer (the occupation that gave him his stage name). He briefly attended Middlebury College in Vermont in the ’60s and is a longtime social activist who likes to bowl and fish.
His varied life experiences have colored his unique voice and can be felt all across Bull Goose Rooster.Â From the powerful opening track â€œTomorrow Night,” to his slinky renditions of Slim Harpo’s â€œIâ€™m a King Beeâ€ and â€œBaby Scratch My Back,â€ as well as on the amusing anecdotal ditty â€œTrucking Classâ€ and the title cut (inspired by a wild bird that stalks the parking lot of the U.S. Post Office in Key West, Florida), this album marks the work of a mature musician who hasnâ€™t forgotten how to have fun.
Bull Goose Rooster is out now on Northern Blues.
Nederland, Colorado’s Elephant Revival continues to reveal itself as a blossoming light in the ever expanding neo-folk constellation. Led by the distinctively emotive voice of Bonnie Paine, the acoustic outfit’s sound contains echoes of old time music, the Avett Brothers, The Civil Wars, and a gypsy camp fire. The group’s eclectic mash also features strains of jazz, folk, bluegrass and more, but, thankfully, is not constrained by any one genre.
It’s Alive, which was produced by acoustic string virtuoso Sally Van Meter, captures the evolving sound of a band thatâ€™s been wowing crowds on the festival circuit and beyond. Recorded at Immersive Studio in Boulder, Colorado, the disc – which advertises itself as an EP and captures the organic sound of the band brilliantly – includes seven tracks that shift subtly in tone and mood like the evening shadows in the trees.Â The sound of the washboard set against the strings is always acoustically intriguing, while the entire band breathes like one at its high points.
The track â€œTo and Fromâ€ is a fine example of the band’s more easily accessed sound. The pleasing cut could easily stand strong on the radio. The interestingly titled â€œPart of a Songâ€ is a particularly engaging ditty that features more engaging crooning by Paine. While mostly meditative and pensive, Â the album makes a light-hearted turn on the cut â€œDon’t Drift Too Farâ€ and ends with â€œRaven Song,â€ a fittingly haunting and ethereal a capella composition.
It’s Alive is out now on Ruff Shod.