Nobody’s Fault Productions
CD: 11 Songs; 58:45 Minutes
Styles: Hill Country Blues, Drone/Trance Blues, Contemporary Electric Blues
In this reviewer’s opinion, the musical niche known as “hill country blues,” “drone blues,” and/or “trance blues” is like free verse poetry. It doesn’t have a firmly-established rhyme or rhythm, yet any motifs that are repeated lull the mind. The purpose of such blues, and such poetry, is to create a mood and hypnotize an audience rather than make them think. Once their higher-order processes of analysis and logic are bypassed, listeners can ‘zone out’ and party more easily. That’s Texas’ Rev. KM Williams’ goal as he’s “Jukin’ in the Holy Land: Live in Israel.” It features Williams on guitar, vocals, and ‘Lowebow’. With him are Yonatan Bar Rashi on drums and washboard, harmonica player Dani Dorchin, and John Lowe as “Inventor of the Lowebow”. All eleven songs on this album are originals, each providing their own unique take on the blues. Apparently it’s quite popular in Israel, as shown by native musicians such as the Ori Naftaly Band. In fact, the ONB heard the Reverend and learned one of his songs, “Survive.” One thing’s for sure: KM pleased a cheering throng with his hill-country creations. Three of them are highlighted below:
Track 01: “Something On Your Mind” – This opener is a prime example of the free-verse quality of drone/trance blues. KM’s growling electric guitar rhythm is hard to pin down, although it’s repeated throughout the song. As for Yonatan Bar Rashi’s drums, are they played ‘in time’ or out of it? The truth is that there’s hardly a common time signature with which to compare them. Lastly, Williams sings his lyrics in staccato bursts, like those from a static-filled radio station. Each phrase sounds like a separate statement: “If I hurt you. I did not mean it so. Baby. I don’t want you to go.” It’s a nearly-off-the cuff introduction to the Reverend’s signature style of music.
Track 03: “Goin’ On Down the Tracks” – Williams plays a mean acoustic guitar on song three, which is more measured and less improvisational than number one. Its message is simple: “Tried to love you; you wouldn’t love me back. Well, I believe I’m going to have to go on down the tracks.” As expected, there’s a pronounced ‘chugga-chugga’ rhythm for emphasis.
Track 05: “One Suitcase Blues” – This jaunty ditty is the best one on “Live in Israel,” again featuring brilliant acoustic fretwork. The audience softly claps along as our narrator wonders if a single receptacle will hold his belongings. According to its Introduction (track four), “One Suitcase Blues” is inspired by a Blind Lemon Jefferson tune called “Matchbox Blues.”
This subgenre might be particularly suited to live performances, if a crowd’s main objective is to ‘free their mind,’ stomp, and let the good times roll. For diehard fans of hill country blues, “Jukin’ in the Holy Land” is grand!