A San Francisco Bay Area artist that I’ve been following for a few years now is a talented guy named Chris Cotton, formerly of the ragingly fantastic blues band The Blue Eyed Devils. Those guys used to play out at the historic Pioneer Saloon in Woodside, CA and absolutely bring the house down with a floor-stomping, sweaty, hours-long brand of live blues that sounded like a bunch of 80-year-old Mississippian dudes on a back porch but was really a handful of white guys in their ’20s. It was epic. The floorboards would literally shake.
The Blue Eyed Devils (not to be confused with what I understand is a similarly-named white supremacist group) have now disbanded. Their ’02 album The Legend of Shorty Brown is described as “Original junkyard blues, dark boogie, rags progressive jazz influences. No overdubs.” That pretty much sums up the sound, and it touches on a primal, elemental vein of music that I don’t hear nearly enough.
‘Buked and Scorned – The Blue Eyed Devils
Southbound –> County Jail Blues – The Blue Eyed Devils
Off their out-of-print 2001 album Hard Luck Town. They’d always play these two songs seamlessly together in concert – it wasn’t until I got the album that I realized it was two separate songs.
Rag Mama – The Blue Eyed Devils
My SF-area readers who can dig this kind of sound should head out to one of former frontman Chris Cotton’s two shows shows this week; the first is tonight at Biscuits & Blues (which is a marvelous . . . cultural experience), plus there is a cool solo show & documentary screening on Friday at the Apple Store Downtown.
The Biscuits show will be Chris with his full band plus some extra folks on guitar, pedal steel and backup vocals, and they plan to perform “at least seven new songs” from the upcoming new album, due this fall. Truthfully, I rarely listen to this kind of music at home, but seeing this guy live is guaranteed to be one of the most fun & unique shows you’ve seen all year. Just absolutely fantastic, a vanishing art form.
The Apple Store performance is a viewing and Q & A with documentary producer Michael Afendekis of the film “Cotton,” with a short solo set afterward. The documentary was filmed in Clarksdale, Mississippi at Jimbo Mathus’ Delta Recording Studio (of the Squirrel Nut Zippers) during the making of Chris Cotton’s last record, I Watched the Devil Die.
Thursday, 12 Jul 2007, 8:30pm – Biscuits & Blues
401 Mason St
San Francisco, California 94102
Friday, 13 Jul 2007, 7:00pm – Apple Store SF
Special free preview of the film “Cotton“
One Stockton Street
San Francisco, 94108
Description from Apple Store site: “Discover the magic of the Mississippi Delta Blues as independent film director Michael Afendakis shares excerpts and stories from his documentary, Cotton, capturing the life and influence of musician Chris Cotton. After Michael’s presentation, don’t miss a very special live acoustic guitar performance by Chris Cotton himself.”
Trailer of the “Cotton” documentary (from Tin Can Films) can be seen here, and you can stream some of Chris’ solo tunes on his MySpace.