R&B, Blues, Soul & Stax

Who's The Hoo-Doo Man?

26 JAN 12 DAVID SHANNON

Driftin' Slim's roster of pseudonyms is extensive even for a bluesman. He performed and recorded as Model T Slim, Driftin' Smith, Harmonica Harry, as well as under his given name, Elmon Mickle. And any additional confusion about his band might be forgiven, because on 10 of the 15 cuts featured on Somebody Hoo-Doo'd The Hoo-Doo Man, on the Original Blues Classics label, Driftin' Slim is the band: vocals, harmonica, guitar, and drums.

Slim often performed this way, a harmonica strapped around his head, a guitar in hand, a bass drum at one foot and a hi-hat at the other. And while the tracks on this release that do feature the band (Jack Wall on guitar, Ike Parker on bass, and Guy Jones on drums) are outstanding and allow Slim to stretch a bit more on the harp and vocally -- such as "Give an Account" and "Christine Blues" -- it's the solo recordings, for which Slim mans all the instrumentation, that really break the blues down into its most elemental components.

Part of what makes the solo songs so compelling is the power of Slim's storytelling. On songs like the Biblical blues narrative of "Jonah" and the hardscrabble "This World Is None Of My Home," Slim adds yet another job title to his impressive solo material, that of blues bard. And check out "Mama Blues," on which Slim makes his harmonica literally speak. It's an uncanny bit of simple virtuosity.