Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday Blues Get Down!

Howlin' Wolf - Dust My Broom (live)

In 1966 Alan Lomax arranged for several of his favorite blues artists to appear in a documentary he shot in front of a small audience at a juke-joint soundstage. This video, now available on DVD as Devil Got My Woman: Blues at Newport, 1966 featured Skip James, Son House, Pearly Brown, Bukka White and Howlin' Wolf, and the film is a treat for blues fans, as the performances run the gamut from Skip James' eerie country blues to Bukka White's infectious guitar boogies (one of which includes some funny dancing by some audience members) to a strong but drunken performance by Son House and a great set by Wolf. It's sort of strange that Wolf is in this video at all, because he was the only electric bluesman of the group, but he obviously knew these guys and interacts with them throughout the film. Wolf's set is a highlight of the film. Wolf and his band are in good form, and Wolf interjects great monologues - including a harangue at Son House, who had been drunkenly interrupting the set - and a lot of clowning around to his solid performances, which included today's selection.

As a blues song, "Dust My Broom" had been around for quite awhile - it was part of the canonical Robert Johnson catalog, and Elmore James had made it his signature tune in the 1950s. Wolf's long-time guitarist Hubert Sumlin works the song's trademark riff while Wolf bellows the lyrics and blows some harmonica. This is a stomping rocker in Wolf's hands, from his short opening monologue to the finale, where Wolf and Sumlin do the final chorus in unison.

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