• Some catchy, modern blues from Charles Ponder: “She’s Got the Best in Town”

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    How modern? He’s not singing about good soul food. He’s singing about tacos!

    The Caribbean sound reminds me of some work by the great Ry Cooder.

    High praise, indeed.

    Besides his solo work, Ponder is a member of the Memphis band, The Lizzard Kings.

    He handles the vocals on this song, which is genuinely funny and is more country than blues.

    In the early days of rock-and-roll, at places like Sun Studios in Memphis, there was really no boundary between rock, blues/rock, and country. Just think of the members of the Million Dollar Quartet.


  • New Feature: ZipDialog Presents TWO VERSIONS. Elmore James, then Buddy Guy playing “Look Over Yonder Wall”

    A great song, done in two very different ways. This will become an occasional feature at ZipDialog.

    Suggestions of “two versions” are most welcome


    The version made famous by the great Elmore James: “Look over yonder wall, hand me down my walkin’ cane”


    Then, a hard-rockin’ version by a modern master, Buddy Guy.

  • R. L. Burnside playing “Poor Black Mattie” and Explaining How He Got His Start

    After R.L. explain how he got his start and plays a bit, I have another wonderful version by Samantha Fish. Later, I have Burnside’s full version.


    Although R.L. Burnside is closely connected to traditional Delta blues, he’s actually from a little outside the Delta, in the nearby hills. Some call his style, “Hill Country Blues.”

    Here he explains the first time he played in public, a party where his friend, Mississippi Fred McDowell, asked him to play. For those of us who love the blues, the rest is history.

    Here is one version of the lyrics (like all folk tunes, they change a bit with each rendition):

    Poor Black Mattie, yeah (Poor Black Mattie)
    Ain’t got a change in clothes (change in clothes)
    Girl got drunk, oh (girl got drunk)
    Close that door (close that door)
    Poor Black Mattie (Poor Black Mattie)
    Ain’t got change o’ clothes
    Girl got drunk, throwed her trunk outdoor

    Goin’ to Memphis to see that (goin’ to Memphis)
    Worldly fair (the worldly fair)
    Reason I’m goin’ (the reason I’m goin’)
    Baby, there (is my baby’s there)
    Goin’ to Memphis (goin’ to Memphis)
    See that worldly fair
    Reason I’m goin’, ’cause my baby there

    Need no heater fireplace (need no heater)
    By my bed (said, by my bed)
    Woman I got (that woman I got)
    Cherry red (cherry red)
    Need no heater (need no heater)
    Fireplace by my bed
    Woman I got, keep me cherry red

    –Poor Black Mattie


    Now, here’s a wonderful version by someone keeping the blues alive, Samantha Fish, together with Lightnin’ Malcolm. They are OUTSTANDING!!

    It was produced at the legendary Zebra Ranch Studios in Coldwater, Mississippi by Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars. (I can’t hear his name without thinking about another famed producer named Dickinson–Bruce Dickinson of “More Cowbells.”)


    Here’s R.L. playing a full version:


  • Armed Robbers Accidentally Run Into Suburban Police Station While Trying to Flee Officers

    This story from NBC5 in Chicago:

    Three Chicago men were charged with armed robbery after they accidentally ran inside a suburban police department while trying to avoid being captured, authorities said.

    Squad cars chased a speeding vehicle along southbound Route 41, exiting on Old Deerfield Road in Highland Park before the vehicle crashed at Richfield Avenue.

    The crash happened adjacent to a parking lot at the Highland Park Police Station.

    Highland Park Deputy Chief Timothy Wilinski told the Chicago Tribune the men tried to flee the scene of the crash, but one was taken into custody in the parking lot of the police station. Two others allegedly continued into the lobby of the building, where they then hid behind a vending machine. Eventually, they too were taken into custody. –NBC 5 Chicago 

    So, to recap:

    ◊ Instead of making a clean getaway, they are chased by the police
    ◊ They crash the getaway car
    ◊ Trying to escape on foot, they run into a police station.

    I have the perfect song for these miscreants. If it wasn’t for bad luck, they wouldn’t have no luck at all.

    ♦ Tip of the hat to Robert May for this gem.




  • Allman Brothers: Great Live Version of “One Way Out,” plus some other treats

    Fabulous performance, 1972, Hofstra.

    Dickey Betts – guitar, vocals
    Gregg Allman – organ, vocals
    Barry Oakley – bass
    Jaimoe Johanson – drums
    Butch Trucks – drums
    Chuck Leavell – Fender Rhodes piano

    The theme of the song is one of the oldest in blues: Our singer tells the woman he’s in bed with that he has to get out real fast:

    Ain’t but one way out baby, Lord I just can’t go out the door
    Ain’t but one way out baby, and Lord I just can’t go out the door
    ‘Cause there’s a man down there, might be your man I don’t know
    Lord you got me trapped a woman, up on the second floor –Lyrics to “One Way Out”

    Versions: The song was first done by Elmore James in the early 1960s. (I have that posted below)

    Blue harmonica player Sonny Boy Williamson II reworked it for Chess Records (link here).

    In 1968, Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper updated it to blues-rock at Fillmore East. (You can hear it here.)

    But it’s the ABB version that stays with me.

    Now, as a special treat, here’s the original Elmore James version, with a lot of band-band R&B folded in. And he says the man “might be yo’ husband, I don’t know.”

    If you want some more Elmore, click here for his classic version of “Look on yonder wall, hand me down my walkin’ cane”



  • Crawling King Snake by John Lee Hooker

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    So it shouldn’t be a total loss, here’s John Lee Hooker at his best, singing about that amniote, ectothermic vertebrate.

    Mr. Hooker is from Vance and Clarksdale, near my hometown.

    That’s where he first saw king snakes and–I’m just guessing here–thought they might be an effective metaphor.


  • ZipDialog Roundup for Tuesday, May 2

    Topics and articles chosen with care. Linked articles in bold purple

     Trump offers to meet with North Korea leader under the right conditions.  Even says he would be “honored” to meet him. (Washington Post) 

    Why the sweet talk about one of the world’s most noxious humans?

    Comment: My guess is that Trump and his aides are trying to give Kim Jong Un a face-saving way out, even as the US ratchets up the pressure. Trump would never meet with Kim unless the deal itself was already set.

    It’s all a long shot in any case. Everything hinges on China, and the only reason China will pressure Pyongyang is the now-credible fear that, if Beijing does not act, Washington will.

    Who knows if the whole thing will disintegrate? Still, Trump and his team have handled this carefully, so far, and have managed to assert leverage from threats that were simply impossible under Obama and the Bush administration (which was tied down in Iraq).

    To put it simply: Trump is coupling his coercive diplomacy with a carrot.

    Brexit: Brits and EU off to a bad start. Strong words at Downing St. meeting between PM Theresa May and European Commission Pres. Jean-Claude Juncker (BBC)

    The UK will not enter into “a briefing war” with the European Commission over Brexit talks, Tory sources have said.

    It follows reports in a German paper of repeated clashes between Theresa May and Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker at a Downing Street dinner.

    EU sources claimed UK misunderstanding of the talks process, and ignorance about how Brussels works, could lead to no deal being agreed on the UK’s exit. –BBC

    Comment: These will be complicated, difficult negotiations. Each is a huge trading partner of the other. But the EU does not want to set an example that it is easy to leave the union. Nor does it want to see EU nations, currently living in the UK, forced out.

     Dozens of Putin’s opponents killed over the years. USA Today says those “cast suspicion on Vladimir Putin”

    What do they have in common? They are among 38 prominent Russians who are victims of unsolved murders or suspicious deaths since the beginning of 2014, according to a list compiled by USA TODAY and British journalist Sarah Hurst, who has done research in Russia.

    The list contains 10 high-profile critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin, seven diplomats, six associates of Kremlin power brokers who had a falling out — often over corruption — and 13 military or political leaders involved in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, including commanders of Russian-backed separatist forces.. –USA Today

    Comment: Looks like a previous leader passed along his advice.

     Why are US corporate earnings so high when the economy looks weak, CNBC asks.  Short Answer: International Earnings in a strong global economy.

     How is Europe’s problem with Islamic terror going? Not Well.

    The US State Department just issued a travel alert for the whole continent. (Reuters)

      Just heard Elvin Bishop singing “I’m Old School,” with the great line,

    Don’t send me no email.

    Send me a female.





  • Torn between two lovers: Strange story and the perfect blues song to go with it

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    I hate it when this happens.


    Blues song, dedicated to the miscreant’s wife.

    “Another Mule Kickin’ in Your Stall,” is supposed to be metaphorical.

    In this case, though, it’s all-too-real. Elvin Bishop does a great, laid-back version of this Muddy Waters song. There are several great versions, if you are interested. Junior Wells has a fine rendition, featuring his harmonica. So does the great blues piano player, Otis Spann, here. Bobby “Blue” Bland does a growling version here.

    Let’s go with Elvin’s easy, wistful version.