Friday, September 17, 2010

Blank And Blues: Station Blues

Othar Turner & The Afrosippi Allstars feat. The Rising Star Fife And Drum Band: Station Blues


How many people make their album debut at the age of 91? Othar "Otha" Turner is the only one I can think of. Sadly he only got to make two records before moving on to higher grounds in 2003.

After playing traditional fife & drum blues for 75 years in his native Mississippi he and The Rising Star Fife And Drum Band (his backing band with an ever-changing line-up mostly consisting family and friends) recorded their first album Everybody Hollerin' Goat in 1998.

A great album, but the real jewel in the crown is 1999's From Senegal To Senatobia, where a group of Senegalese musicians credited as "The afrosippi allstars" joined in the hijinx. The result is a blend of West African rhythms, bottleneck guitars, marching drums, and a fife Turner had made himself out of bamboo.

A giant bubbling gumbo so deadly hot it makes your head spin.

Drum & fife music is as old blues, if not older (I'll let all of the music historians of this blog discuss that one, as my expertise on the subject is virtually non-existant) but never got the same recognition or exposure. Perhaps because the genre never had a superstar like B.B. King or a near mythological figure like Robert Johnson. Or maybe it's just not easy enough on the ears to attract a big audience.

But if anyone could've brought this incredible and historically significant music to the masses it would've been Othar Turner. If only the record labels had found him sooner.

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