Boo Boo Davis – Boo Boo Boogaloo
Blue Lotus Recordings – 2023
10 tracks – 50 minutes
James “Boo Boo” Davis delivers pure no-frills post-war harmonica led electric blues with LA Jones on guitar, Adrianna Marie on bass, and Chris Millar on drums. Paul Niehaus IV guests on keyboards on two tracks. Boo Boo’s vocals are strong and empathetic.
James started life in the Mississippi Delta. He was born on November 4, 1943, in Drew, Mississippi, a small town near Clarksdale. His name was derived from his father’s brothers, James and Boo-Jack. Sylvester Senior, his father, was a musician who played multi- instruments. Many now famous musicians passed through their house during his early life including John Lee Hooker, Elmore James and Robert Petway. At age 5, Boo Boo played the harmonica and sang in church.
Sylvester Senior led a family band called the Lard Can Band which featured his younger brother Sylvester Junior on guitar, and his sister on vocals. At age 18, Boo Boo joined the band to play percussion. The family could not afford a drum kit, so Boo Boo kept the beat on a lard can, thus the band name. The band played throughout Mississippi and backed a then unknown B.B. King.
Davis moved to Illinois in the 60’s and continued to play with various musicians throughout that state. His brother, who had moved to St. Louis previously convinced to come to the city. The twosome played in Doc Terry’ band and he joined Little Aaron to form a new band. That twosome provided backup for several major performers including Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, Little Milton, and Elmore James.
In 1972, he formed the Davis Brothers Band that became the regular band for East St. Louis’ Tabby’s Red Room for 18 years. In 1999, he played on Arthur Williams Harpin’ On It and later that year he released his own first solo record. In 2000, he made his first tour of Europe. Now, 23 years later Boo Boo Boogaloo becomes his twelfth studio album release. One of his song’s “I’m So Tired” which was featured on his 2016 album One Chord Blues was used in a commercial for 5-Hour Energy and in Season four of the TV show Sons of Anarchy.
The album opens with “Little House By Myself” where he states that he does not need anyone else, and his harmonica rings out with L.A. Jones’ guitar kicking in. Boo Boo gets the boogie going as he is excited about a series of concerts he performed and “had a ball” “At The Red Door”. Jones plays chicken-scratch style as Davis proclaims “She Made Me Evil”.
Davis’s harmonica leads a low-down blues as he “woke up this morning with…” “Blues On My Mind” and “when the telephone didn’t ring, I know something has gone wrong.” Jones’ guitar again adds a crying note to the song. He moves to a ballad as he asks her to “hold my hand and let’s make love tonight and…” “Make Everything Alright”.
We are in “Hell Round Here” Davis states as he offers a current social commentary in a ballad where he states “that we got to stop fighting and killing each other.” On a happier note, Jones pulls out the slide guitar and Davis sings about the joy of Christmas that comes “Once A Year”.
“Boo Boo Boogaloo” gets the joint jumping as Davis encourages “everyone to get on the floor and dance.” “I Got the Crying Blues” is a low-down head-nodding song of sad times “when my baby left me.” The album ends with an upbeat mostly instrumental “Jungle Bump”.
Bill Dahl adds in the liner notes “No’ you ain’t gonna find nobody no better. That’s no idle boast”. I will second that sentiment. Davis has a top-notch band that drives his sound.