Scissormen

Scissormen
Luck In A Hurry

Vizztone

By Art Tipaldi
December 2008

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The sound is both primitive and futuristic.

Think what a rural Charlie Patton or Son House might have sounded like with electricity and pedals. Or, if Junior Kimbrough or R.L. Burnside had plugged their groove-driven blues into a sonically charged chamber.

Ted Drozdowski’s band, Scissormen, is all that and more.

Basically a two man, juke joint experience, Scissormen’s blues is like pullin’ a bottle of ‘shine outta your pocket, takin’ a long swig, and looking for some crossroads to sell your soul.

Drozdowski is the former music editor at Musician Magazine, the music and arts editor for the Boston Phoenix, and the 1999 winner of the Blues Foundation’s Keeping the Blues Alive award for excellence in journalism. But he’s also one of the most visionary guitarist on any scene.

On eight of the songs, it’s only Drozdowski and a hyper drummer. The addition of the late Teo Leyasmeyer’s piano on two tracks provides Drozdowski another musical soul to spar with. But Drozdowski’s dense and complicated guitar is at the core. At times, he conjures the rough hewn walls of a Delta juke. On the record’s only full band effort, “Whiskey And Maryjane,” Drozdowski’s guitar replicates the hard livin’, high wire euphoria of a character in love with the title’s substances. It’s the modern answer to “Canned Heat Blues.”

The record opens with “Tupelo,” a stormy, Picasso-like canvass with Drozdowski’s primal guitar darkening the edges. With Larry Dersch driving the beat a la Cedric Burnside, “Move Baby Move” crackles with juke joint electricity, and “Junior’s Blues” pays homage to the Kimbrough legend that still rules Holly Springs, Miss.

Drozdowski’s covers also acknowledge his mentors. As he accents sorrowful lyrics on Son House’s “Death Letter,” his distraught slide lays bare the internal agitation. Very Trippy stuff.

House’s “John The Revelator” is piloted by drummer R.L. Hulsman’s spacey, tom-tom pulse. And Leyasmeyer’s piano adds just the right amount of cotton-field-church to Robert Johnson’s “Preachin’ The Blues.”

“When The Devil Calls” finds Drozdowski alone on a porch at Dockery’s plantation near Clarksdale, Miss. Crossroads anyone?

The record ends as it starts, with Drozdowski driving his slide guitar in a hill country frenzy. Amid all the distortions, Drozdowski’s light tenor vocals at times sound like an eerie voice from beyond; at other times, however, the delivery feels more like speaking. Yet, with Drozdowski at the controls of pen and strings, Scissormen always looks to connect the deepest Delta blues traditions with this band’s avant-garde vision.

www.scissormen.com

www.vizztone.com

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