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Tomcat Courtney - Downsville Blues

Downsville Blues

Tomcat Courtney

Blue Witch Records - BWR105

Available from Blue Witch Records.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Tampa Blue
(TampaBlue at TampaBlue.com)

I'm moving to San Diego! San Diego has Tomcat Courtney and that's good enough reason for anyone to move to San Diego. Ok, well, it's at least good enough reason for anyone to visit San Diego.

This guy is 78 years old and his musical sensibilities prove it. From the first measure on the opening cut, Cook My Breakfast, I knew I was in for an exceptional treat. I heard that smokey, old-time, dungeon-dark sound I have always associated with the ultimate blues band sound.

Tomcat has built an incredibly sensitive band to back him on this project. Everyone works together to create a blues collection based on the fundamental emotions of the blues. No one ever forgets that this is blues with a feeling, this is Tomcat's blues.

There are 12 tunes on this collection. Nine were composed by Tomcat. And just like the other traditional aspects of this CD many of the tunes are derivative of traditional tunes with a Tomcat twist and Tomcat lyrics. One cover is Tampa Red's Cryin' Won't Help You. This is an unusual treatment of this tune but it's solid, it works and it great. The other non-original is Bottle It Up And Go is credited as public domain. Tomcat's version has a great rock to it and is just as smooth as the satin lining in Tomcat's fedora.

A real treat is the cover of Mance Lipscomb's Meet Me In The Bottom. This is where Tomcat's Texas roots become clearest. Definitely removed from the way Lipscomb did it but not so far that he wouldn't recognize it and, I think, Mance Lipscomb would heartily approve of the way Tomcat delivers this great old song from one of the old Texas songsters. Considering their relative ages and birth places it is not out of the question that Tomcat got this tune straight from Lipscomb. At least they both were drawing water from the same regional well.

Tomcat's promo describes him as coming from the Texas country blues tradition. This is not what a lot of folks these days think of as Texas blues. This is blues with a feeling. This is not chord shredding, gonzo-harping, dueling guitar, head-cutting, one-step from rock-and-roll stuff. This is pure, real, unadulterated, bump-and-grind jook joint material performed by a solid group of musicians who understand not to use 4 notes when one will convey the emotion best. Because, folks, blues is about emotion and Tomcat Courtney is about the blues!!!

Track List:

  • Cook My Breakfast
  • Four Wheel Drive
  • Wolf That Howls
  • Shake It Up Baby
  • I Wonder
  • Downsville Blues
  • I'm So Glad
  • Disaster Blues
  • Meet Me In The Bottom (Mance Limscomb)
  • Cryin' Won't Help You (Tampa Red)
  • Bottle It Up And Go (Public Domain)
  • Railroad Avenue
All songs by Tomcat Courtney except as noted.

Edited by: David N. Pyles
(dnpyles@acousticmusic.com)

Copyright 2008, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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