Big Creek Slim- Migration Blues & Twenty-Twenty Blues
14 tracks and 13 tracks respectively
I discovered Big Creek Slim during the 2021 Blues Blast Music Awards. He submitted these two albums, Migration Blues and Twenty-Twenty Blues, which both impressed me as fantastic acoustic country blues. Both albums were released in 2021 with a total of 27 new songs.
Mark Rune aka Big Creek Slim was born in Ikast, a very small town in the middle of Denmark. He states on his website, “It ain’t that much about American or black music as it’s about the blues. The blues should be a universal feeling and a world patrimony. Why I play them in this style – old, black, American – has something to do with the way I am. I always like to find the roots of things. I also search for the roots of Scandinavian culture. I played a lot of Irish traditional music, and the roots of Brazilian samba fascinate me.”
The primal, simple, essence of the roots of the blues is what moves him to be a bluesman. “The thing that inspired me so much about old blues and folk music is the strong sound: Less is more if you play it with attitude. The sound of the Delta blues carries me to a more primitive state of mind.” He certainly has taken that to heart.
Migration Blues was done in 2019 when he was struggling with residency issues with the Danish government. The album was released in April of 2020 . The collection of songs give us pictures of his struggle against bureaucracy and becoming a second class citizen. He opens with “Hard Times,” a song that easily could be attributed to Robert Johnson if it was not just over five minutes long (remember that RJ and early artists perfected the 3 minute song that fit on one side of a 78 RPM record; who knows how long they stretched songs to in their live performances). The finger picking and added rhythmic strumming are exceptional here and throughout. The song is about struggling to exist, working two or three jobs and trying to make ends meet as he sings as if he was from the Mississippi Delta a hundred years ago.
Next is “Demolition Man,” a song with sexual double entendres. If his mama gives him food, “He’ll tear this whole thing down.” Good stuff. “Black Tammie” follows, a song about his big and juicy woman who he yearns for. He sings of his woes in “Working My Way Back Home,” “Landlord Blues,” and “Hot Boiling Water Blues.” “Hyperborian Blues” takes his far-northern latitude roots and how he gets the blues in the long days of the long winter in darkness, cold, rain and snow, mixing American roots music and Scandinavian themes to cool effect.
“Three Kind Words” starts as a more rollicking and happy tune about his women telling him she loves him. He tells us how he was transformed but then things get a bit dark and he tells us a working man, “Ain’t nothing but a woman’s slave.” Apparently the three kind words were not heartfelt. He yearns to go up to Limeburg in a blues of that town’s name. I looked on a map and did a Google search, and found no such place except Limburg, Netherlands. “Headless Chicken Blues” gives us Big Creek telling us he’s running around like one with no where to go since his woman dropped him. In “Deportation Blues” we find out it’s not just America that has deportation on it’s mind to conveniently get rid of people. “Going To Bristol” is an uplifting, traveling song about going to visit his woman and the welcoming people of the town. He concludes with another uplifting cut, “Things Are Getting Better,” ending the album with a couple of upbeat cuts. The final one is instrumental and gives the listener a feeling of freshness and hope.
Then on the Twenty-Twenty Blues Album he was stuck in Brazil, and he said he was, “In quarantine in one of the world’s epicenters of coronavirus, with all the polemics, boredom, paranoia, loneliness, despair and fading hopes that each and every one of us had to deal with.” So he gives us his solo Pandemic blues album.
The title track begins the album as Slim bemoans the year of the Pandemic and more. He thought 2019 set us up for good times. He tells us he’d laugh in your face if you told him in 2019 that people would be running around in masks. He tells us we’re killing African Americans essentially like a bunch of lynch mobs as he relates the killing of George Floyd to Emmett Till and the 1921 Black Wall Street Massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It’s a powerful cut.
He follows that with “The Goddamn China Cough,” and it’s obvious where that song is going. He sings that China might have given us macaroni, but now they’ve given us something far worse. “Little Wheel Rag” is a bouncy love song to his woman about how he wants to light the flame and make her happy. Next is “Gotta Go Somewhere,” where Big Creek sings of his love for his woman but can’t stand how she acts which is driving him away. “Mama Got Me Sweepin’” is a whistling tune about his woman got him weeping and sweeping, another song about dying slowly in a bad relationship. In “Those Same Old Blues” Slim howls about needing to get his act together to get the blues out of his life. “Up In Smoke” continues in his feeling trapped with a ball and chain around his leg.
Things continue down the road of the blues in his life where someone is “Fishing In My Pond.” He says he knows his pond well and how could she think he wouldn’t find out? Up next is “That Medicine Show,” a cut about yearning for a vaccine (the medicine show) which will release us from the Pandemic’s servitude. He sings about all the things he’s gonna do when he gets his shot. Perhaps he was a bit overconfident as to what it would eventually do, but it’s still a cool number. “Going Back To Dimbo” follows, a song about longing to go home to this Swedish town. “Black And White Blues” is a cut about how he interacts with woman of varying colors. Black women satisfy him as no white woman can.
“I Flipped A Coin This Morning” is a song about making a decision about going to see his woman to see if she will have him or not. The final cut is “The Great Division” where Slim give us his take on how the world is divided in two. It doesn’t matter where you are from or what religion you are, there are just two kinds of people who are divided and distracted. We’ve forgotten to carry love and good will and we’re tearing each other apart, a somber reminder that we need to work together instead of trying to force one way or another on each other.
These albums are two fantastic sets of tunes. Big Creek Slim is a superb solo acoustic artist whose abilities on guitar, whether picking, strumming, sliding or whatever, are amazing. And as I said preciously, his guitar and vocals hearken back to perhaps a century ago from the Mississippi Delta. Slim’s work warrants attention. He is a great artist and his music is a modernistic throwback to an era long past, yet the topics he writes, sings and plays about are 100% about issues today. These two albums from just before and during the Pandemic give us a great appreciation of traditional acoustic blues used to deliver timely and current messages about our world. I highly recommend Big Creek Slim’s albums for your listening pleasure!