10 tracks / 40:31
Minnesotan Don Scott has been playing the blues for five decades, and his current blend of roots and blues is unique as it brings the music down to its most basic levels. He has toured the world, both as a solo artist and with numerous bands that include the Dust Bowl Blues Band (a founding member!), Lazy Bill Lucas, Mighty Joe Young, and the magnificent Janiva Magness.
Over the years, Don has cut six CDs, the latest of which is Slidin’ Sideways. This is a cool release with six originals, four covers and the bare minimum of instrumentation. Scott takes on the vocals and guitars, with pianist Raul Altamirano joining in on a few tracks. So, there are no drums, bass, keyboards, or harmonica to be found and because of this, these arrangements wind up with a raw roots mood and sound.
This ten-song set is book-ended by live tracks that Scott and Altamirano recorded at Loot in Zihuatanejo, Mexico. This beach town is the perfect setting for Don’s kind of blues, and he kicks off the album with the title track, an original instrumental. He cranks out five minutes of righteous slide work on his National guitar as Raul adds a bit of his best honkytonk. And the set finishes up with Willie Dixon’s “Wang Dang Doodle” which gives Raul a bit more room to stretch his legs as Scott belts out the vocals.
The standout cut on Slidin’ Sideways is “Some Other Day,” a song about the plight of the modern soldier. Scott plays a heavy Spanish guitar under heart-wrenching lyrics of how much more we should be doing for those that have given so much of themselves to our country. This song is followed up by the jaunty “Blue Blake Rag,” which is a jolting transition. Don does some amazing guitar work on this one over the steady beat provided by Raul’s hammering left hand.
The roundup of covers is pretty cool, and they include cool stuff like Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson’s “Kidney Stew,” and Roosevelt Sykes’ “Persimmon Pie” (how risqué!). But the coolest of these is Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys’ “My Shoes Keep Walkin’ Back to You,” which has also been done very well by Ray Price, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Costello. This is heady company and Don Scott holds his own with just his hard-hitting guitar to back up his plaintive wails of loneliness.
You will find that all of the songs are neat, but there are a few production issues with noise and volume levels that mean this might not be the slickest CD that you have heard recently. Despite these nit-pickings, Slidin’ Sideways is a fun album, and Don Scott has talent galore that translates into a wonderful live show. It would be a great idea to head over to his website to check his gig schedule, as he gets all over the country. There are gigs in six states from Arizona to New York on his schedule right now, and you can be sure that more will be added soon.