Right from the start, it's more than obvious that Tim Woods loves playing the blues. There's such an exuberance and joy here that one is almost taken aback: should anyone that deeply into such a purposely depressing style be so damn happy about it? Well, yes, and that's what puts a unique stamp on him. Combining a snappy sense of tempo with a folk looseness and just the right amount of knowing blues slop, this human bear rocks, trots, swings, and boogies all the way through The Blues Sessions. Recruiting 16 savvy musicians—some well-known (Honeyboy Edwards, Ike Stubblefield, etc.), some not, but all very good—Woods put together a project he'd sweated over for years, and the result is rather glorious.
The engineers were careful to preserve a neighborhood tavern element in the recording, and each cut sounds live (probably was! but sans audience) and richly atmospheric, not neoprene and glossy. In each song, everyone lets his hair down and gets to business, setting up driving rhythms and solid solos. Then there are the backporch numbers like Edwards' Bad Whiskey & Cocaine, raw as an oyster dug straight from the sand and steaming with swamp balm, Honeyboy himself singing and playing while Michael Frank provides a wailing harp just before Woods ducks in on secondary vocals, keeping perfect resonance.
There are a lot of classics here: Spoonful, Who's Been Talkin', and one of my all-time faves: Willie Dixon's Do the Do. All are rendered with the gusto and guts associated with the 60s and 70s marriage of Chicago and dirty white boy blues styles. The jams, especially the instrumental Clarksdale Boogie, are pure heaven. Woods knows his stuff through and through and toured with Sonny Landreth, Donna Godchaux, Commander Cody, and others. It's that last name I see as most appropriate, as there's a fundamental swing to Woods' music that finds a warm kindredness with the Commander's work, though Woods is a good deal more downright drenched in out and out blues, while the good Commander is more the Asleep at the Wheel type.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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