The Morton Report – Bill Bentley
Bentley’s Bandstand: March 2019
Watermelon Slim – “Church of the Blues”
Northern Blues Music
“Watermelon Slim has got the goods up, down and doggie, and you’d have to have a huge hole in your soul not to feel it. Wear it out.”
March 11, 2019
By Bill Bentley, Columnist
Watermelon Slim, Church of the Blues. As everyone adjusts to life in this fairly new century, the age-old question of whether the blues will survive or not stays relevant. The music is definitely morphing into less a low-down call for soul-splitting contemplation of the human condition, often from the bottle of distilled spirits, and more of a run at amped-up entertainment that could someday find its way to the Mountain Railroad stage at Disneyland. It’s sometimes hard to see a good end for the music that came up as a life-or-death question of survival for those who had very little to look forward to. It was all about staying alive then, and not how many plushed-up tour buses are needed to move a small band from city to city and pull a small mountain of equipment. But enough about that. Watermelon Slim stands in high cotton as a man who will always honor the blues for the permanent physical and psychic band-aid it so richly is. The singer hit a rough patch serving in the Vietnam war, and has been out there searching for salvation ever since. The latest album is his best yet. It’s a tip of the harp to Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Joe Blue, Mississippi Fred McDowell and even Allen Toussaint, along with several big-bottom originals. The stripped-down music all sticks to the low-down road of permanent groovation, never looking for the bright white lights or big city nights. This man sings like he walked through a shredder once upon a time, and there is no way–or need–to pretty anything up now. Watermelon Slim has got the goods up, down and doggie, and you’d have to have a huge hole in your soul not to feel it. Wear it out.