Bittersweet Frustrations with Delta Bluesman Honeyboy Edwards

“I don’t drink because I’m dry, baby, I drink because I’m blue. I tried pretty well this morning, I can’t get along with you. Said hey, baby, don’t you want to go-land of California, sweet home Chicago.”

If those lines sound familiar, then one of the latest releases from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings featuring Mississippi Delta Bluesman Honeyboy Edwards is just what you need to lift the shroud of winter’s doldrums. If “Sweet Home Chicago” is absolutely foreign to you then here is an excellent opportunity to get beyond your realm of knowledge. The album includes such numbers as “Catfish Blues”, “Next Time You See Me” and the previously mentioned “Sweet Home Chicago” performed by the Delta blues legend.

“Catfish Blues” is a staple for blues guitarists; B.B. King and Muddy Waters have given their attentions, and even Jimi recorded a version. In this recording, Edwards borrows a verse from Waters’ song “Rolling Stone”. Overall, the song feels like sitting by the river on a hot August evening with this song continuously playing in the radio in your head.

“Next Time You See Me” is one of the smoothest numbers on the collection. Written by Herman Junior Parker, the song stems from the grand Memphis blues tradition. In keeping with the Delta tradition, the song is played in the key of E. Edwards’ vocal delivery is sweet; the words melt like butter with the steady beat as he sings of a “no-good woman”. He quickly adds that another woman is on the phone-he’s not wasting time with this wrong-doer when he can be spending time with a queen.

“I Feel So Good Today” was actually written in 1974 by Honeyboy Edwards himself. This song has a lot of get-up-and-go to it thanks to the boogie run. It deals with the standard problem found in blues songs; one minute his baby is coming home to him, but by that evening she decides she doesn’t need a man after all. Edwards’ voice comes through nice and strong in “I Feel So Good Today”; he punches every word and the listener is transported to that magical roadhouse in their mind where the smoke swirls and the music kicks.

Besides being a great collection of music from a blues legend, this CD also contains helpful liner notes. Included is an overall history of the musician’s career and influences. Each song is also discussed, so that the amateur blues fan can increase their knowledge about our country’s musical heritage. Apparently, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings have done several collections like this one, featuring all types of music.

Honeyboy Edwards’ vocal delivery and skillful guitar riffs make Mississippi Delta Bluesman a treat for the ears and the soul.