the Georgia Straight
Let’s get the hard sell out of the way: you need this live DVD, if only for Bob Brozman’s uncanny “Church Bell Blues”. Looking like Groucho Marx being possessed by the evil spirit of Delta bluesman Son House, the California singer-guitarist lurches through a performance that’s part voodoo, part vaudeville, and wholly virtuosic. I was there for the North Vancouver taping of this show: Brozman’s act was thrilling then, and even on the small screen it’s thrilling now.
Elsewhere, this document of producer Steve Dawson’s all-star tribute to 1920s string band the Mississippi Sheiks is equally true to what transpired on-stage. There’s a rough-and-ready charm to these occasionally underrehearsed performances that’s quite winning. Sure, Oh Susanna might be a little pitchy on “Things About Comin’ My Way”—the title track from the earlier, studio version of this program—and the Sojourners’ Ron Small fluffs a line on “Sweet Maggie”, but everyone was having a good time, and that translates nicely here.
Extra kudos have to go to Dawson, especially for his incendiary electric slide playing; it’s a side of his work we could stand to hear more of. And there’s no faulting his band, which includes Wayne Horvitz on keyboards, Matt Chamberlain on drums, Daniel Lapp on fiddle and trumpet, and the sublimely understated Keith Lowe on standup bass. Is it too much to ask for a whole album with Brozman and these guys together?