John 'So Blue' Weston – So Doggone Blue (1993)

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NICK DERISO: Harp player Rice Miller — better known as Sonny Boy Williamson II — used to sludge across Weston’s yard on the way to parties and dances, a leather belt festooned with harmonicas strapped across his chest.

Robert Johnson’s stepson, Robert Jr. Lockwood, was the first guitar player that Weston ever knew.

So, he’s got his Delta lineage straight. And on this, his first recording (done for Fat Possum, and now out-of-print, I believe), Weston found an insistent sound more than worthy of those forebears.

Worth head-wagging over, too, is Troy Lee Broussard — a Louisiana native from Lake Providence whose guitar is sharp and arching, almost all high end. It’s the perfect accompaniment to Weston, with his so-blue harmonica moans and off-the-charts vocals.

Start with the tight instrumental “Squeeze Play” by Broussard, the only tune here not written by Weston. It defies your typical assumptions about wordless interludes — that is, that they are typically filler.

This affable composition, marked by a riffy guitar and foot-stomping rhythm structure, is a perfect platform for Weston. He gooses the song, then lets it back off, setting a template for the album’s varied, tone-perfect vibe.

“Younger Days” is another standout, a hip paean to what-used-to-be, fondly remembered but not really wished for. “Too Jealous,” meanwhile, is so over-the-top, it’s just flat-out funny.

Even this late in the album, Broussard’s guitar is an insistent voice, the chassis of a brilliant, low-riding blues recording.

Weston comes closer to meeting Broussard toe-to-toe when the harp is away from his mouth. His singing is rangy, and informed. Partly, that’s due to age. This debut came out as Weston turned 65.

Mostly, however, it’s because of Weston’s own desirous vocal style, something by turns big-time Chicago blues jam but also quiet and lonesome, a little like — no kidding — Merle Haggard.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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