Toronto Blues Society
This DVD is intended as a companion to the Tribute CD, Things About Comin’ My Way, from last October. Producer/bandleader Steve Dawson assembled many of the same performers for a live concert in Vancouver this past March, who perform a completely different set of songs than is on the CD. After an introduction consisting of interviews establishing the background and history, the concert DVD begins with Jim Byrnes reading a text written by original Sheik Sam Chatmon while the band quietly plays “Sitting On Top Of The World”. The veteran actor & bluesman knows just what to do here and it is the first of many highlights. Oh Susannah sings “Things About Comin’ My Way” and quite differently than Ndidi Onukwulu’s on the CD. Colin James wasn’t on board for the CD but he is sure on board here with a solid acoustic blues “Keep On Tryin’” with John Hammond guesting on harp. Bob Brozman follows with another, “Church Bell Blues”. Veteran arranger/performer Van Dyke Parks, a Mississippi native he tells us, contributes a rather unusual (for the Sheiks, not for him) “It’s Backfirin’ Now”. This song was also on the CD but by the North Mississippi Allstars, so you get some indication of the musical variety at work here. Daniel Lapp, the Victoria-based virtuoso on fiddle & trumpet is a very important part of this variety. Jim Byrnes’ concert performance here is good time performance of “Tell Me What The Cats Are Fighting About”. Lapp switches to mandolin for Alvin Youngblood Hart’s performance, with Hart on lap steel. “Livin’ In A Strain” is another fine blues. John Hammond’s own chosen song was “Kind Treatment”. There’s probably more blues on this DVD than the Sheiks ever did live. After an old time country “Who’s Been Here” from Dave Alvin & Christy McWilson, the whole cast returns for “Sitting On Top Of The World”. Jeff Bonner’s cameras did a good job of capturing what was clearly a labour of love for everyone. If you have the CD, you need this DVD, if you haven’t – get ’em both! What we need and soon is the eighty some odd Mississippi Sheiks 78s in one box.