Chicken Snake – Trouble On My Doorstep

January 01, 1970

(Thick Syrup Records)



The Devil is in the details, and he’s also willing to parlay
with you for possession of your soul down at the crossroads at midnight. As
everyone is well aware, the best candy on Earth comes from Mars, and the best
music comes from the Devil. I invoke this image because of the
blues-meets-hoodoo style of music Chicken Snake creates, complete with all the
trappings of evil eyes, St. John the Conqueror root, snakes, Spanish
moss-dripping swamp cypress, plus tales of true love, murder, poison and
downright filthy blues. Jerry and Pauline Teel, the creative force and
songwriters behind Chicken Snake, grew up in Alabama
and Texas and spent time living in, and loving
New Orleans,
until Katrina descended, destroying their home and lives, forcing them to the
East coast to recoup their losses and regroup.


The pedigree of its members is staggering. Jerry Teel,
vocals, bass and blues harp, has kicked major ass for years in bands like The
Chrome Cranks, Honeymoon Killers, Knoxville Girls, Boss Hog and Big City
Stompers. If those names don’t spark some recognition, then, go to bed kid, you
bother me. Pauline, who was also in Big City Stompers, now providing vocals and
fiddle; Josh Lee Hooker, on guitar, played with the Headless Hookers; Danny
Hole drummed with Kid Congo & the Pink Monkeybirds and Nick Ray, also on
guitar and piano, played with the down and dirty ’68 Comeback. All said and
done, the music isn’t your old hippy-style blues, but a grittier blues
exploding with a full-frontal, shredding sonic attack, above and beyond the
call of duty.  There’s an extra dimension
of blood-curdling guitar attacks that brings to mind Tim Kerr’s
blues-deconstructing outfit, Jack O’ Fire, coupled with Holly Golightly & the
Brokeoffs for a rustic twang. Jerry’s vocals coupled with Pauline, lean towards
John and Exene harmonizing, a little off-kilter. Any band can play the blues,
or country-blues, but with a crack team like this, you get a lot more than you
expect, which makes this a highly entertaining outing. A match made in Hell.




Like their debut album, Lucky
, the group recorded in New York and the finished mix done back home in
Virginia. “Loathsome Blues” is a stomp and shouter with Jerry doing some
hyperventilated blues harp, along with some very authoritative guitar
discharges from Ray. Things get more countrified on “Hey Man,” that reminded me
of Oakley Hall with its touch of psych blended in.  In “Doctor Doctor,” there ain’t no cure to be
found for what ails a broken heart, a pile of bills, sleeplessness and the woes
of the world falling on your head. But it doesn’t hurt to consult for a
diagnosis and hope that there’s a cure to be had. There’s more trouble at the
doorstep in “If The Creek Don’t Rise,” with some slippery-slide guitar work and
off-kilter guitar skittering and clanging. There’s a truly awesome cover of
Dylan’s “I Am A Lonesome Hobo” that’s reminiscent of a version you might hear
the Stones offer, except for a
gnarly psychedelic jam in the middle I can’t envisage the Stones doing. The band really takes off on “Hogback
Road (Route 666),” the most rocking number in the bunch, launching off with a
quick-cadence drumbeat and Bo Diddly-like bounce, rollicking merrily down the
road to Hell. “Alabama Diamondback” is a slithery cool, slow blues dripping
with venom and menace. The album finishes on another high note with “Fortune
Teller Blues” with its buzzsaw electronic effects and oscillation onslaught
cutting into the slide guitar jam.


It’s a comforting thought as you are finally traversing down
the highway to Hell, smoothly paved with all those good intentions and
politicians’ promises, this album blasting from the speakers, that it might not
be so bad spending eternity there. After all, the music will be great, and most
of your friends, and some really cool people and damn hot musicians will
probably be there to keep you company!


DOWNLOAD: “I Am A Lonesome Hobo,” “Fortune Teller Blues,” and “If
The Creek Don’t Rise” BARRY ST. VITUS


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