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"Okiesippi Blues" from Watermelon Slim and Super Chikan

Monday, 06 June 2011 12:00 AM Written by 

41jhMlRqCWL._SL500_AA300_Yes, the CDs just keep coming. And I'm pretty sure you've heard of both of these guys, but I don't think they've ever recorded together, so this is a debut album for Watermelon Slim (Bill Homans) and Super Chikan (James Johnson), both currently Clarksdale, Miss., residents.

This album, due out tomorrow, is "Okiesippi Blues" (NorthernBlues Music), and it offers 11 mostly original tracks from two of the more original blues players around. Slim, a Boston native, had called Oklahoma home for years, hence, I assume, the Okiesippi of the title.

Neither is exactly a youngster, but it's just been in the past decade or so that both have made their marks on the blues scene. Slim plays harp and left-handed guitar, laid on a table in front of him, a remnant of how he learned to play with a guitar on his lap while in a hospital in Vietnam during that war.

But it's how he makes it sound, with a fierce slide and original story-telling lyrics, and impassioned delivery. Super Chikan is similarly talented with a sturdy blues voice and a down-home, traditional  style. Both are recent Blues Music Award winners.

So it's an album that full of musical variation, from Slim's opening "Trucking Blues" to the closing duet on a Chikan tune called "Moonshine." The guitar music from each is is tough and gritty, and both men's vocal chops have been honed with sandpaper righteousness.  The album sounds intiimate and honest, almost like it was being made up as they went along.

Here's a video of the two men playing together at a concert in Norway:

A cautionary calendar note: The WYEP blues calendar online shows guitarist Coco Montoya at the Thunderbird Cafe tomorrow night (6.7), but neither Montoya's web site nor the T-Bird's lists him as being in town.

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