BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
In the hands of lesser musicians, the blues can be a singular form, complete with a stoic beat and a mournful wail. Consequently, it takes a confident artist to redefine the norm, expand the parameters and add an imaginative twist.
Watermelon Slim has both the savvy and experience to add different hues to the blues, thanks to a resume that includes combat service in Vietnam, anti-war activism, art, literature, criminal missteps, a variety of blue collar occupations and a musical pedigree that dates back 40 years. While his tenure with his backing band The Workers has been on and off over the years, Slim – born Bill Homans – has integrated his own back story into his songs and developed a rugged revisionist style not unlike that of Taj Mahal or Keb Mo in terms of the template. While he’s adept at spewing a bluesy bluster on songs such as “Tomorrow Night,” some bottleneck blues on “A Wrench in the Machine” or a cocky cover of “I’m A King Bee,” the driving delivery of Woody Guthrie’s “Vigilante Man,” the a cappella gospel of “Take My Mother Home” and the twilight piano duet “Over the Horizon” suggest a remarkably wide palette.
Despite his lengthy track record, Watermelon Slim is clearly still in prime form and anxious as ever to explore new terrain. And on the terrific Bull Goose Rooster, he has cause to crow even louder.
DOWNLOAD: “Vigilante Man,” “A Wrench in the Machine,” “”Tomorrow Night” LEE ZIMMERMAN