Neckbone Stew Big Daddy Wilson
- 1Cross Creek Road 03:00
- 27 Years04:05
- 3Neckbone Stew05:38
- 4I Just Need A Smile03:12
- 5Tom Cat03:00
- 6He'll Make A Way03:55
- 7Give Me One Reason04:22
- 8Running Shoes04:53
- 9My Babe04:16
- 10Damn If I Do03:16
- 11Cookies Gonna Kill Me 01:38
- 12The River04:24
- 13Peanut Butter Pic 02:58
Info for Neckbone Stew
Take a Cadillac ride through the Southern States and you’ll hear a thousand flavours of music on the breeze. Listen to Neckbone Stew and you’ll hear them expertly stirred into one record. “It’s a mixture of all the spices and good stuff you’ll find in most Southern kitchens,” says the award-winning US bluesman Big Daddy Wilson. “To make a good stew, you need a little bit of everything, and this was the idea I went with for my new CD. A beautiful mélange of blues, spiritual, roots, soul and reggae. I just felt like mixing it up this time.” Released in 2017 on Ruf Records, Neckbone Stew is the latest twist in a fascinating life story. Wilson was raised a “real country boy” in Edenton, North Carolina, but fate had other plans. By 1979, the young Southerner had escaped the grinding poverty of his hometown, enlisting in the US Army and relocating to Germany, where he fell for the raw power of live blues. “I met the blues here,” he remembers. “I didn’t know what the blues was before. It was here that I found a part of me that was missing for so long in my life.”
Wilson had sung in church as a child – a precaution by his mother and grandma to keep him “away from drugs and off the streets” – but his natural shyness meant he’d never considered stepping onstage. Now, he discovered a talent for songwriting and an unmistakable voice that soon won praise from the iconic Eric Bibb: “As soon as you hear Big Daddy Wilson’s voice, whether speaking or singing, you hear his southern country roots. It’s a voice baptised in the river of African-American song, a voice with the power to heal”.
That’s a sentiment echoed by the thousands who have watched the Big Daddy Wilson Trio perform on stages across the USA, Europe and Southern Hemisphere over the last two decades. Working from his adopted home in Germany, meanwhile, the expat bandleader has also earned acclaim for studio albums like 2009’s Love Is The Key, 2011’s acoustic Thumb A Ride, 2013’s I’m Your Man and 2015’s Time. And yet, according to the man in the hat, Neck Bone Stew is the jewel in his back catalogue. “For me,” he says, “it sits on top. The latest is always the greatest. I was in the mood, like John L. Hooker said.”
If Neck Bone Stew brings together a variety of genres, then it also unites a dream-team of musicians who helped these 13 songs soar. Led by the multi-instrumental talents of Wilson himself on vocals, guitar and percussion, long-standing Trio members Cesare Nolli (guitar) and Paolo Legramandi (bass) brought fire and flair to sessions at Italy’s Fire Place Room. “These guys are just incredible musicians and great to work with,” reflects the bandleader. “I have some special guests, too. The phenomenal Ruthie Foster. Mr. Staffan Astner. One of my blues heroes, the great Eric Bibb. And this CD is produced by the Goosebumps Brothers. It was a piece of cake – or should I say, Cookies Gone Kill Me. Thanks to the local café who supplied all the cookies…”
As for the songs, they run the gamut. There’s the rolling acoustic blues of Cross Creek Road. The exuberant brass lines, wah guitar and bad-luck lyric of 7 Years. The melancholy clipped chords of Damn If I Do, with its depiction of a lover brought his knees (“You got your hooks so deep in my heart/You got me crawlin’, but still you won’t stop”).
The album’s musical variety, meanwhile, is exemplified by the magical moment when the title track switches from an aching slide-blues into a reggae strut, with lyrics describing a lover who “got them big old hips, look just like two battleships”. Wilson is equally adept on the sun kissed balladry of I Just Need A Smile, which pairs lush chords with a lyric that implores us to ditch our gadgets and reengage with our humanity. “It’s all about life,” decides the bandleader of the album’s subject matter. “But there are two things you need in a good blues CD – a woman and some food.”
At a time when most mainstream music fails to satisfy, Neckbone Stew will give Big Daddy Wilson’s growing army of global fans the soul food they’ve been craving. “Throughout my career and journey,” he reflects, “I’ve been influenced and inspired by so many different and talented people, places and things. And somehow I wanted to bring it all together on this album. To put it all in the Stew…”
Big Daddy Wilson, vocals, percussions
Paolo Legramandi, bass, vocals
Cesare Nolli, guitar, drums, percussions, keyboards, vocals
Staffan Astner, guitar
Eric Bibb, guitar
Sven Lindvall, tuba
Nik Taccori, drums
Ruthie Foster, vocals
Davide ""Dave"" Rossi, keyboards
Alessandro Meroli, horn, flute
Paris Renita, backing vocals
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.