Sunday, January 30, 2011

Chris Cotton: White Man Sings The Blues

You know the feeling of elation after finding a 20-dollar-bill in last year's winter coat?  Well, today, I got that same feeling  after stumbling upon an artist I'd never heard while listening to the "acoustic blues" channel on AOL radio.  "Acoustic blues," a long-time favorite of mind,  normally digs deep into the back catalog of old Delta blues and folk standards; rarely do we hear any contemporary artists, and for good reason -- because the movement saw its heyday from around the turn of the 20th Century until the early 1950's.  So I was somewhat surprised to hear a recording without the typical hisses, crackles and pops of most of the songs from that era.  Even more surprising was my reaction to learn that the performer was white -- another paradox when talking about the Delta blues.  Lo and behold, his name is Chris Cotton and I assure you, he is the real deal.  Reminiscent of the likes of Mississippi John Hurt, Big Bill Broonzy, John Lee Hooker and Blind Lemon Jefferson, I was floored by his gritty tone and soulful finger-picking style -- an absolute must if you intend on channeling the spirits of the great ones. According to his bio on
"An aural portrait that owes a debt to Southern bluesmen and Americana pioneers alike, Chris Cotton’s Yellow Dog Records debut sounds like a house party caught on tape – world-weary men effortlessly strumming their guitars and bass, while passing around a jug of whiskey for sustenance. The barrelhouse piano, is, of course, pushed up against one wall; Cotton’s gravelly voice reigns over the debauchery. The scene is timeless – harkening back to days when the distinction between blues and country was hopelessly blurred."
How is that for an endorsement.  Naturally, I searched YouTube but unfortunately found only a handful of amateur clips of Cotton playing on friends' porches, at house parties, and at chatty dive bars.  Overlooking the obvious, I visited his website and MySpace page, where you can buy his studio releases -- which I plan on doing -- and listen to most of his catalog.   

In any event, here is a clip of Cotton performing the Dixieland standard, "(Won't You Come Home) Bill Bailey."   And pay no mind to the cockeyed hat and grunge-inspired attire; Cotton is legit.  You can see it in his face and hear it in his voice.  And while Derek Trucks may be the heir-apparent of the blues-throne amongst the younger generation, I like Cotton as the dark horse candidate.

 Chris Cotton, "(Won't You Come Home) Bill Bailey"

Here was the song I hear today, "Louis Collins" -- another old blues standard:


WeightStaff said...

Read this new post on my blog using my phone, through Twitter, while waiting in line at the food store. The future is here my friends. Looking forward to checking out these vids. --DL

WeightStaff said...

yay technology. i'm curious to know what you think of the clips.


Yellow Dog Records said...

Thanks for digging Chris Cotton! You can stream his entire album "I Watched The Devil Die" (the acoustic blues-flavored one you heard on AOL radio) from here: .

His new album, "New American Century vol 1" is in a different musical direction and is available via a "pay what you like" model from his site: