Songs From The Road Big Daddy Wilson
- 1Wake Up03:17
- 2Drop Down Here06:42
- 3Miss Dorothy Lee05:47
- 4Texas Boogie09:56
- 5Ain't No Slave07:50
- 6Anna Mae06:38
- 7Walk A Mile In My Shoes10:22
- 8Cross Creek Road03:39
- 9Neckbone Stew05:40
- 107 Years04:48
- 11Baby Don't Like09:20
- 12I Just Need A Smile03:14
Info for Songs From The Road
No matter where Big Daddy Wilson travels on this big, beautiful, mixed-up planet of ours, he takes the South with him.
Listening to the soulful storytelling of the man born Wilson Blount in a small town in the Inner Banks region of North Carolina, it's impossible not to conjure images of dusty back roads, cypress groves, a Saturday night juke joint or Sunday morning revival meeting. It's a nostalgic and – some might say – glorified image of rural America. Yet in an age of ruthless demagogues and divisive politics, Big Daddy Wilson chooses to celebrate the simple things that bond us as human beings – a smile, a shared meal, a helping hand – along with cherished values like faith, perseverance and devotion to family. For more than two decades, he has been carrying his message of hope and unity to each and every show, whether in New York, Paris, Auckland or – in the case of his new live album Songs From The Road – the village of Rubigen in central Switzerland. The concert recorded at the Mühle Hunziken exemplifies Wilson's uncanny ability to connect with an audience. The key ingredients are honesty, his natural charisma and the sheer power of his voice. This performance from the fall of 2017 is a testament to just how far the American ex-pat and former soldier has come since answering a newspaper ad and summoning the courage to sing "Stormy Monday" for a group of young German blues musicians way back in the 1980s. He's ably supported by a tight and versatile four-piece unit comprising Cesare "Smokestack" Nolli (g), Paolo Legramandi (b), Nik Taccori (dr) and Enzo Messina (k). A band that backs Big Daddy Wilson always has to be at the top of its game, because his music isn't any one thing. From song to song, it may transform into something hard-driving or laid-back, funky or bluesy, joyful or brooding, stripped down or supercharged.
"I tried to give my listener a small view of the journey, the good, the bad, the highs and the lows," explains Wilson in the liner notes to the album. He and the band open the set sounding figuratively uptown: "Wake Up" is a steady grooving call to action, "Drop Down Here" a reggae-tinged plea for help from the man upstairs, "Miss Dorothy Lee" a guitar-fueled tribute transported on a Bo Diddley-like rhythm. The bawdy blues of "Texas Boogie" gives way to the dead serious testifying of "Ain't No Slave." Then it's time for a little side trip to the countryside: "Anna Mae" and, later, "Cross Creek Road," are sun-drenched and pastoral. The band picks up steam again on "Neckbone Stew," ultimately climaxing with the earthy "Baby Don't Like." The twelve-song live CD closes with the eloquent simplicity of "I Just Need A Smile."
As usual with the long-running Songs From The Road series, there are visuals as well. The accompanying DVD in the two-disc set includes 15 songs in all and offers a good long look at Big Daddy Wilson in action. It opens with the familiar gospel blues of "John The Revelator" and closes with something he revealingly calls his "Country Boy Medley." But don't expect to see him standing onstage in overalls and work boots. As always, Wilson is nattily attired in fine threads, a short-brimmed hat and the ubiquitous pair of dark shades.
Some years ago, Big Daddy Wilson told an interviewer that the main reason he wears sunglasses onstage is his inherently shy nature. "I'm no entertainer," he claimed at the time. Songs From The Road delivers some pretty strong evidence to the contrary. And yet, in a certain way, he's right. Wilson's music – like Wilson himself – is real. It's honest. At no point is this man ever putting on a show. "I’m just interested in singing, getting my message out and feeling the people – and hoping I can make them feel me."
Big Daddy Wilson, vocals, dobro, diddley bow
Cesare Nolli, guitar, backing vocals
Paolo Legramandi, bass, backing vocals
Nik Taccori, drums, backing vocals
Enzo Messina, keyboard, Piano
Big Daddy Wilson
was born more than 50 years ago in a small town called Edenton, North Carolina. The population of Edenton counts less than 6000, 55% African Americans, 25% below the poverty line. “We were very poor but I had a very beautiful childhood“, Wilson remembers. “Me and my sisters were raised by Mom and Grandma. We lived a simple life, we went to church every Sunday, school on weekdays. I also worked back then on the tobacco plantation and in the cotton fields, I was a real country boy.“ Wilson sang in church but he never thought about going on stage. “I was extremely shy.“ His guardians meant well for the fatherless boy and they often sent him to church also during the week. “That won´t hurt him, keeps little Wilson away from drugs and off the streets.“
Young Wilson quit school at 16, and sometime later joined the US Army. Being a poor black man in the south and living in a small town, jobs were scarce. After being stations in Germany, the young man became homesick. “I found out the quickest way to go back home was to see that you got married. They’ll allow you a vacation time about two weeks to go home to get married. Wilson convinced his officers of his impending wedding and returned Stateside, refusing to return to Germany. After six weeks his mom was so worried that she begged him to go back to the military. “And so I was back in Germany.“
A few years later Wilson met a German girl who became his wife. She is the reason for him staying and also the reason for a poem which became Wilson´s first song.
And then Wilson heard the blues for the first time. Back in Edenton he had listened to music only in church and from the local, country radio station. But now he went for the first time to a real blues concert. “I met the blues here in Germany. I didn’t know what the blues was before“ Big Daddy Wilson says. “It was here that I found a part of me that was missing for so long in my life.“ It did not take long and the shy guy who had written some poems started looking for melodies. He went on stage, jammed all over the German blues scene and made an impression with his warm and soulful voice. He began touring with bands and as a duo and even released a few records. “My sister came all the way to see me perform and she couldn’t believe it. No, that’s not my brother. It seems like all my shyness was gone – thanks to my music. “
Champion Jack Dupree, Louisiana Red, Eddie Boyd... many musicians who made Europe their home and brought the blues with them succeeded here better than in the U.S. Even Luther Allison lived in Europe for 14 years before his big break. And now there´s Big Daddy Wilson, an American singer and songwriter who found his home in northern Germany. But something is different regarding Big Daddy Wilson. When he came over from the U.S. there was no blues in his baggage. He initially discovered the blues here in Germany which is where he will begin his international career.
With his international solo debut on RUF Records Big Daddy Wilson is going to take one step further in his late career as a musician. For “Love Is The Key“ he recorded his own songs exclusively with a small band; taking it back to the roots, often reduced to acoustic instruments, but always full of soul. You can listen to his very first song here,“ Anna“ the song about his wife. Gospel is the foundation for “Keep Your Faith In Jah“, but this doesn’t keep the songwriter Wilson from praising the talents of a gypsy queen from New Orleans, “Jazzy Rose“. In “Hard Days Work“, Big Daddy uses monotone drones for hypnotic effects on the listener, while breezy off beats Jamaica-style let “Dreaming“ to swing along. Autobiographic aspects can be found elsewhere: “Ain´t No Slave“reminds us of the African-American history and at the same time makes us aware of Wilson’s grown confidence. His good friend Eric Bibb guests on two songs about Wilson’s roots ,”Country Boy” , “Walk A Mile In My Shoes”. He’s very proud of Bibb´s presence because “I’ve learnt so much from him,” says Wilson.
The fruits of this learning can be tasted on Big Daddy’s imminent European Tour. Does he dare to imagine that he could take this music all the way back to his roots in North Carolina?
“That’s a dream, but one that makes me nervous“ the Father of three laughs; it’s clear that his homesickness is gone – along with his shyness.