BY MICHAEL TOLAND
With the passing of RL Burnside, Junior Kimbrough and T-Model Ford (not to mention the apparent retirement of Robert Belfour), it seemed that the distinctive North Mississippi Hill Country Blues tradition had passed along with them. Leo Bud Welch is here to dispel that notion with his second album I Don’t Prefer No Blues. (The title refers to the reaction of his preacher when Welch explained he was moving from the gospel of his first album Sabougla Voices to blues.)
Like his predecessors, the 82-year-old Bruce native plays from the gut, keeping the riffs simple and the feeling true. Maintaining a more relaxed pace than the manic Burnside and a less sinister vibe than the menacing Kimbrough, Welch still prefers raw to refined. He grinds through the autobiographical “So Many Turnrows,” blusters the unapologetic “Too Much Wine,” spits out the sneering “I Don’t Know Her Name,” rocks the wailing “Girl in the Holler” and the insistent “Pray On.” In Welch’s hands, even hoary blues standards breath in new life – his takes on Roy Brown’s “Cadillac Baby,” St. Louis Jimmy’s “Goin’ Down Slow” and even the Rolling Stones’ “Sweet Black Angel” crackle with fire and soul. It’s not just the North Mississippi sound that’s in good hands with Welch – it’s the blues in general.
DOWNLOAD: “I Don’t Know Her Name,” “Girl in the Holler,” “Pray On”