GUEST POST: T-MODEL FORD & GRAVELROAD – TALEDRAGGER

Autopsy IV is on his annual pilgrimage to strap a board to the bottom of his feet and slide down mountains. While he is away 9B will feature a collection of guest posts. Today’s post comes from our good buddy Chris Green.


I’m sure that a lot of ninebullets.net readers are familiar with the legendary T Model Ford and the band GravelRoad from their appearances at the (late, lamented) Deep Blues festival and previous coverage on this site, but I’ll give a brief intro. T Model Ford is an elderly blues-man whose raw sound was first brought to a larger audience by his recordings with Fat Possum records, and who has inspired and influenced many of the artists covered here. T Model started his recording career when he was in his 70s, and there’s a lot of colorful lore about him and his life out there on the internets. GravelRoad is a great 3-piece band from my hometown of Seattle whose sound is a blend of blues, hard rock, and psychedelia, and who have also been performing and collaborating with T Model Ford since 2008.

T Model Ford had an interesting 2010. He started off the year by releasing The Ladies Man, an album full of stripped-down acoustic blues that he recorded with his long time backing band, GravelRoad. This excellent album was recorded live with minimal studio work and featured out-takes between the songs of T-Model talking to the band and telling some stories, providing the listener with the feeling of hanging out at a casual jam between blues musicians. He did a lot of touring in 2010 as well with GravelRoad, playing both small clubs and larger festivals. He also suffered a mild stroke which required him to work hard to regain his full right-hand dexterity for playing his guitar. T Model might have celebrated his 90th birthday in 2010 (no one, including T himself is 100% sure what year he was born). He also got married (for the 6th time) to his longtime companion Stella (who is mentioned in several of his recordings).

And, this past summer, he went into the studios again with GravelRoad for the recording sessions that resulted in a new album, The Taledragger, releasing on 1/11/11 on the Alive/Natural Sounds label.

The new album is a loud electric affair with dense instrumentation. The opening song, “Same Old Train” is a driving 7 minute long groove broken up by T’s singing, guitar solos, and some pounding piano courtesy of guest musician Brian Olive. This track broadcasts to the listener the essential difference between this album and the previous one – while The Ladies Man usually sounds like GravelRoad acting as a backing band with T Model front and foremost, on Taledragger, I’m hearing one seamless band of great musicians.

When corresponding with Marty of GravelRoad, he told me that when they recorded Ladies Man, they had played less than 10 shows with T Model, but that by the time the new material was recorded, they had done 8 or 9 tours with him, and that Marty has drummed with him for something on the order of 150 sets. So it’s not surprising that the new album sounds so much more like a full collaboration.

The second song, “Comin’ back home” introduces another new sonic element, with some fine saxophone playing augmenting the shuffling groove. The sax playing stays with us as they pick up the pace on “How Many Years”. Then things take an interesting turn. “Someone’s Knocking On My Door” opens with some echo-ey, distorted wah-wah guitar, and when T Model’s voice comes in, it’s augmented with a trippy echo. For the next 3 songs, the psychedelic and rock elements of GravelRoad’s sound come through loud and clear, melding seamlessly with T’s juke joint sound. While I love every song on this album, I find these 3 tracks the most exciting.

Then, things shift again. On the rollicking “Red Dress”, T’s opening wailing vocals bring to mind some of his earlier rawer recordings. The album finishes with a slow traditional blues number, “Little Red Rooster”, which was first recorded by Howlin’ Wolf.

I think this a very fine album indeed, that I will be listening to for a long time to come. And, despite it’s early January release, I expect it to show up on plenty of best album lists at the end of 2011.

GravelRoad is planning extensive touring this year, and I highly recommend going out to see them when they visit your town. They will also be doing some dates with T Model Ford, with the first one being in Phoenix in February. One of the high points of 2010 for me was having the privilege of seeing them both together for a great, inspiring Seattle show and getting to talk to T for a bit. I urge anyone out there who has a similar opportunity to take it. If there was a poll for the musician most likely to be still playing 2-hour sets at age 100, T Model Ford would be at the top of the list, but you can hardly treat this as a certainty.

T-Model Ford & Taledragger – Someone’s Knocking On My Door
T-Model Ford & Taledragger – Same Old Train
T-Model Ford & Taledragger – Red Dress

T-Model Ford’s Official Web Site, Gravelroad’s Official Web Site, Buy Taledragger

T-Model Ford and Gravelroad performing at Deep Blues Festival III:

.

IT'S A BOB LOGAPALOOZA! (HIS SHIT IS PERFECT)

A lot of people don’t know who Bob Log III is. Those that have seen him will never forget who he is.

My first Bob Log III experience came at the Deep Blues Festival ’08. He played with Possessed By Paul James and Scott H. Biram at a few night shows so I managed to catch him a couple of times outside of the festival and once at the festival. The first time I saw him I was convinced it was Scott H. Biram in a silver jump suit and a helmet, but then I walked up to the bar for a drink and Scott was sitting there. Suddenly I wondered, who the fuck was this man on the stage in a full-faced helmet and full-body cannonball man suit? As the show wore on he had women sitting on his lap, women with their tits in his drinks and by the end of the weekend he had a devoted fan in myself.

Bob Log was born in Chicago and raised in Arizona. When on stage Bob wears a full-faced helmet with a microphone wired into a telephone handset attached to the front of the face shield. When asked about hiding his face while on stage Bob tries to put it in perspective, “”My face has nothing to do with the music, I’d much rather people pay attention to my guitar playing.

Let’s talk about that guitar playing. Bob picked up the guitar like most 10-11 year olds, but when most 16 year olds would have been learning the riffs to the latest pop rock song Bob started playing slide guitar, modeling his style on that of Mississippi Fred Mcdowell. Playing with a style that is seemingly too fast to be natural, Fat Possum Records started the rumor that Bob had a monkey paw grafted onto his right hand following a tragic boating accident when he was a kid. When pressed about the monkey paw rumor in an interview with Bizarre Magazine, Bob explained, “I’ve got all my limbs. It’s just that when I’m playing my guitar my hand moves so fast it looks like a monkey paw, a hairy paw. My hand moves really fast. Faster than a normal human hand.” Personally, I love the monkey paw rumor.

If none of this has convinced you that Bob Log III is worthy of your attention, then perhaps this quote from Tom Waits will bring you around. Once in an interview, when asked what sort of new stuff he was listening to, Tom replied, “And then there’s this guy named Bob Log, you ever heard of him? He’s this little kid — nobody ever knows how old he is — wears a motorcycle helmet and he has a microphone inside of it and he puts the glass over the front so you can’t see his face, and plays slide guitar. It’s just the loudest strangest stuff you’ve ever heard. You don’t understand one word he’s saying. I like people who glue macaroni on to a piece of cardboard and paint it gold. That’s what I aspire to basically”. Seriously, when Tom Waits calls you strange, you’ve made it.

Back in early April Bob’s fifth solo album, My Shit Is Perfect, was released on Birdman Records. I’ve tried to figure out a way to describe his sound and the best I can come up with is this: Imagine Scott H. Biram with a tongue hyper-extended into his cheek but dead. fucking. serious. I’m not even sure you can truly appreciate Bob on cd unless you’ve actually seen him live. I know I probably wouldn’t have and according to a recent interview, I think Bob agrees:

City Weekly: Do the helmet, boobs, monkey paw, et cetera distract people from the music?

Bob Log III: I don’t drive with the helmet on anymore. I only wear it when I play. Helmet, monkey paw, suit, boob scotch—all this stuff’s basically somethin’ to talk about. I’m a guitar player, right? [laughs] That’s what I do. But you’re never gonna know what my guitar fingerpickin’ sounds like until you hear me do it. People can write about it until they’re blue in the face, usin’ all kinds of adjectives, but you’re not gonna know what it sounds like. On the other hand, if you’re readin’ an article where someone’s puttin’ a boob in a drink, ridin’ a boat on top of a crowd with a helmet on his head, we can all understand that. So I’m makin’ your job incredibly easy. ‘The ripping, swirling fingers of his magnitudeness—” You don’t have to go there. But [the show] is talk-aboutable.

Fortunately for you, he is currently on tour (and playing The Garage here in St. Pete on May 24), so get your ass out to a show and buy the cd afterwards.

Here are some samples:

Bob Log III – Goddamn Sounds Good
Bob Log III – It’s The Law
Bob Log III – My Shit Is Perfect

Just for fun: Bob Log III – Boob Scotch

Bob Log III’s Official Site, Bob Log III on myspace, Buy My Shit Is Perfect

I also thought I’d take this chance to pimp the Deep Blues Festival by offering y’all Bob’s set from last year. I hope you enjoy it:

  1. Put That There
  2. banter
  3. Turn Up My Fucking Guitar
  4. banter
  5. unknown
  6. banter
  7. Six Stringer Kicker
  8. banter
  9. unknown
  10. banter
  11. Wag Your Tail Like A Dog In Back Of A Truck
  12. banter
  13. Make You Say Wow
  14. banter
  15. Rattler
  16. banter
  17. My Shit Is Perfect
  18. banter
  19. String Around A Stick
  20. banter
  21. I Want Your Shit On My Leg
  22. banter
  23. unknown
  24. banter
  25. Clap Your Tits
  26. banter
  27. Boob Scotch
  28. banter
  29. Look At That
  30. unknown
  31. banter
  32. Slide Guitar Ride Junior
  33. unknown
  34. outro

Complete Set as a .zip file